Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Homepage

January 16, 2011

Copter pilot found dead

Autopsy ordered on 42-year-old man discovered in cockpit

By Christin Coyne | ccoyne@mineralwellsindex.com

PARKER COUNTY – A Weatherford man was found dead in a helicopter Friday morning in a secluded area at the north end of Lake Mineral Wells State Park, about 15 hours after a search began for the missing aircraft and pilot.  

After a search of the area overnight by Mineral Wells emergency personnel and an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter and a daylight ground search by law enforcement and Civil Air Patrol, the privately owned helicopter was found sitting on bedrock in a creek bottom around 8:20 a.m. Friday by a pilot with the Parker County Sheriff’s Office.  

“He said the [missing] pilot was slumped over in the seat,” Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said.  

The pilot with Parker County landed and reported the man deceased before leading investigators to the area northeast of the National Guard firing range on state park property.

The man was identified by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office as Dempsey Stice, 42, of Clear Lake Road, in Weatherford.

Stice reportedly owned a Weatherford construction company.

There were no signs of a hard landing, damage to the aircraft or trauma to Stice’s body, according to Fowler.

The ignition key was found in the off position and there did not appear to be anything wrong with the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter, though the FAA was notified of the incident, Fowler said.  

“What he died from we don’t know yet,” Fowler said.

No cause or manner of death was listed by the medical examiner’s office as of Friday afternoon and Fowler said he did not know how long Stice had been dead when he was found.

“Dempsey was a loving father, son and friend to many. He had a heart for the Lord, and he will be greatly missed by his family and the people that loved him,” said Stice’s mother, Orlano Randall.  

“We just ask for this family to be lifted in prayer. We will survive. We have a great love for Dempsey that will never die,” Randall said. “We pray that those who know him will remember him as a gentle, kind man with a big heart and a great burden.”

“He was also a well-respected businessman in the community,” said Sinda Letson, the mother of Stice’s fiancé, Maci Benet. “I loved Dempsey.”

Lt. Col. Rick Woolfolk, incident commander for the Civil Air Patrol, said he received a call around 5:30 p.m. Thursday about the missing helicopter from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.  

The Civil Air Patrol is the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary and helps with locating any missing or downed aircraft, as well as missing persons or other missions given to them by the Air Force.  

A family member of the pilot reportedly expressed concern that the helicopter had taken off around 8 a.m. Thursday about five miles south of the airport in Weatherford and had not returned by 5 p.m.

No flight plan had been filed so a forensic radar specialist looked at radar traffic in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to isolate where the helicopter had taken off and tried to track it, according to Woolfolk.  

“It was actually a little after midnight when I finally had a lead to send a ground team out to look for the overdue aircraft,” Woolfolk said.  

After receiving a call from Parker County shortly after 1:15 a.m., Mineral Wells police reportedly checked aircraft at Mineral Wells Municipal Airport for the missing helicopter.

Mineral Wells Fire & EMS and Air Evac also responded to the state park at the same time to search the area by ground and air for two hours for what was described as a “possible plane crash.”

They had been able to narrow the search area down to about a square mile, according to Woolfolk.  “Even a mile square is pretty tough to cover at night,” Woolfolk said.  

Around 3:30 a.m., they asked law enforcement to meet them, according to Woolfolk.

Fowler said the Civil Air Patrol called the sheriff’s office around 6 a.m. about a possible downed helicopter and they conducted a ground search of the area but couldn’t find the helicopter until they called a pilot to help them by air.  

Even after the daylight search by air quickly located the missing helicopter, those on the ground had a difficult time finding and getting to it due to the rough terrain. 

Weatherford Democrat reporter Sally Sexton contributed to this article. 

1
Text Only
News Toppers

Local News
Kayla Hons.jpg

Kayla Hons

Local Sports
Braxton pitch Kenn.JPG

Sophomore Braxton Allen was masterful on the mound in his second complete-game win over the Wildcats. He pitched six shutout innings, striking out 11 and allowing two unearned runs on three hits and two walks.

  • How sweet it is

    The Mineral Wells Rams have climbed another mountain. After besting Kennedale for the first time in over a decade on their home field in the last week of March, the Rams (16-10, 7-2) swept their season series with the vaunted Wildcats, earning a 6-2 win in front of a home crowd, Friday night, to once again put themselves alone atop the District 6-3A standings with one game left to play. 

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Allie Kenn.JPG Kennedale edges out Lady Rams, 3-0, on senior night

    The Lady Rams wanted this one. Bad. But despite a brilliant defensive effort that kept the game locked at 1-0 until the final frame, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams found themselves so close, yet so far away from a district championship, falling to the second-ranked team in the state, the Kennedale Wildcats, for the second time this year, 3-0, Friday night.

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • Kennedale edges out Lady Rams, 3-0, on senior night

    Despite a brilliant defensive effort that kept the game locked at 1-0 until the final frame, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams found themselves so close, yet so far away, falling to the second-ranked team in the state, the Kennedale Wildcats, for the second time this year, 3-0, Friday night.

    April 18, 2014

  • How sweet it is

    The Mineral Wells Rams have climbed another mountain.

    April 18, 2014

Education
Online Only
  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Religion
  • WED BIBLE Lynn-Nikki-Phyllis.jpg Mineral Wells Wednesday Bible Study Club

    Lynn Waddy and Phyllis Lister hosted the April 9th meeting of the Wednesday Bible Study Club. The meeting was opened with prayer by Lynn. Nikki Murphy brought the lesson from Acts, Chapter 8.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rev. Holt.jpg Holy Week Schedule

    With Palm Sunday already over and Easter coming this Sunday, Mineral Wells Ministerial Alliance is taking advantage of Holy Week, the week between the two holidays, and spreading the good news as much as possible.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hallelujahs to Hisses

    I graduated from Baylor University in 1983.

    April 11, 2014

Must Read
Featured Ads
Poll

Should vaping in public, such as in stores and restaurants, be treated the same as smoking, whether regulated privately by the business or by local governments?

Yes, vaping in public should be restricted like tobacco smoking.
No, vaping shaping should be allowed anywhere.
Not sure/undecided.
Don't care.
     View Results
SmugMug


Click a photo to visit our SmugMug page

Front page
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Facebook
Weather Underground Radar
AP Video
Raw: Fire Engulfs Tower Block in China Ocean Drones Making Waves in Research World Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier Raw: Ferry Captain Received Medical Treatment Hundreds Gather for Denver Pot Rally on Easter Transcript Reveals Confusion in Ferry Evacuation Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Seasonal Content
Texas Amber Alerts
Stocks
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide