Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX


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. 

Text Only
News Toppers

Local News
  • Lillian Peek Cottage Benefit Golf Tournament is Saturday at Canyon West

    Lillian Peek Cottage Benefit Golf Tournament hosted by The MWHS 50 Year Club is Saturday, July 26, at Canyon West Golf Club, 160 Canyon Road, Weatherford, TX 76087.

    July 24, 2014

  • Kitchen Boot Camp for kids

    PALO PINTO – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Palo Pinto County will be hosting day camps with a focus on food and fun.

    July 24, 2014

  • 0727 loc Blue heeler.jpg ADOPTABLE PET: Brighten Blue's day

    Sweet Blue is a 9-month-old female catahoula/red heeler mix. She is a laid back and quiet, a medium-sized girl searching for her forever home.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • USDA processes 106,000 payments to farmers for grazing, livestock losses

    WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently provided a 12-week progress report on U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster assistance programs, announcing that USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between October 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

    July 24, 2014

Local Sports
FB Gordon at Strawn b8.jpg

With a lot of great area high school football rivalries played out each fall, the best is arguably the annual six-man clash between Strawn and Gordon.

  • FWIW: Good, clean hate – Ranking the area's best rivalry games of the 2014 football season


    Football season is fast approaching and with it those glorious games between teams that love to hate each other, which we call rivalries.

    I'm speaking, of course, about sports hate – the only beautiful kind. It's the stuff built on history and tradition that inspires simply the fiercest and most entertaining games of every season.

    Palo Pinto County and the surrounding area have no shortage of fierce football rivalries.

    The University Interscholastic League's realignment often causes new rivalries to be born and old ones to be rekindled. But which rivalries are the area's very best for 2014? The one's you circle your calendar for and make sure you don't miss.

    I can think of at least 10.

    So, for what it's worth, here's my list of the area's best, can't-miss football rivalries of the upcoming 2014 season.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Local Bowlers Roundup set for first weekend of August

    Mineral Wells Women's Bowling Alliance invites you to join them Aug. 3 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Mountaineer Lanes for their second annual Bowlers Roundup. The event will feature snacks, tips from the pros, information on league bowling and two hours of great exercise.

    July 18, 2014

  • Abigail Barber winner 25yd backstroke IMG_0198.jpg Something in the water

    Mineral Wells is well known as the home of Crazy Water, and by all accounts the city's swim team went absolutely berserk in their one and only home meet of the summer on Saturday. 

    July 14, 2014 3 Photos

  • IMG_9853.JPG What offseason?

    Throughout the summer, the Mineral Wells Rams have been hard at work preparing for football season.

    July 13, 2014 9 Photos

  • Roxie Bean Millsap ISD names Bean new elementary assistant principal

    Millsap ISD has announced the selection of Roxie Bean as assistant principal for Millsap Elementary School. Millsap ISD trustees approved Bean’s selection at the regular meeting on June 23.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • WC offers free college preparation through talent search grant

    WEATHERFORD – Weatherford College is offering free college preparation through the Educational Talent Search Grant to the following schools: Bridgeport Middle School, Decatur Middle School, Jacksboro High School, Jacksboro Middle School, Tison Middle School, Mineral Wells High School, Mineral Wells Junior High, Santo High School, Santo Middle School, Hall Middle School, Springtown High School, Springtown Middle School, Weatherford High School and the Weatherford High School Ninth Grade Center.

    June 16, 2014

  • Kimberly Canales Diego (1).jpg Up close with MWJH student Kimberly Canales-Diego

    Kimberly Canales-Diego is an outstanding seventh-grader at Mineral Wells Junior High School.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0511 biz LinkField Services students.jpg Link Field honors students with pancake breakfast

    Link Field Services Inc. was the site of a pancake breakfast honoring Mineral Wells High School students Kandas Cain, Angel Ortiz, Ian Kurtz and Jake Mason.

    May 10, 2014 1 Photo

Online Only
  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

  • Has the iPad lost its swag?

      The company reported this week that sales of its sleek, pricey tablet were down 19 percent from last quarter and 9 percent year-over-year. CEO Tim Cook tried to reassure investors that Apple's new partnership with IBM to sell its devices to IBM's corporate customers will help make iPads ubiquitous in the workplace. "This isn't something that worries us," he said of the iPad sales decline. But the numbers are disappointing no matter how you spin them.

    July 24, 2014

  • Pophin, Tommy.jpg PASTOR POPHIN: The joy of unity

    Do you enjoy going to church? I mean, do you really enjoy going to church?

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pophin, Tommy.jpg PASTOR POPHIN: Joy in heavenly thinking

    For six years, I had the honor and privilege of serving as chaplain for a hospice organization.  Those years are ones that made an impression on my life that has changed me forever.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pophin, Tommy.jpg PASTOR POPHIN: Joy in all circumstances

    I did something different this year on Father’s Day. For the first time since I started serving the people of Beulah Baptist Church, I took a Sunday off so I could go see my father in Waco.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Must Read

Click a photo to visit our SmugMug page

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Weather Underground Radar
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands

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.
Auto Racing
Texas Amber Alerts
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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