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Jul 24, 1998

Belizean dies in California helicopter crash

Word has been received from California that a Belizean has been killed in a helicopter crash. Thirty year old Jose Castillo of Corozal had been working for the last five years as a power and airframe mechanic for Heavy Lift Helicopters of Apple Valley, California. Late last month he was among a number of Heavy Lift personnel sent by the U.S. government to fight forest fires which were raging across the State of Florida. According to his sister, Eva Wildman, Jose worked nonstop for twenty days maintaining the aircraft, which were used around the clock to drop water on the fires. It was after the job was done, and the crew was on their way home, that tragedy struck. On July eighteenth, as his helicopter passed over Palm Springs, California, it crashed, killing all three men aboard: Castillo, another passenger and the pilot. Authorities are still investigating what caused the chopper to go down. Jose Castillo attended Corozal Community College, St. John’s College and S.J.C. Sixth Form. He also worked as a customs officer before studying aircraft maintenance in the United States. A memorial service was held today in California in which Castillo and his two colleagues were honored for their heroism in the line of duty. Funeral services will be held on Tuesday at St. Francis Xavier Church in Corozal. Jose Castillo: dead at age thirty.

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