Helicopter crash claims newlyweds and pilot

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A Faith Academy graduate and Sam Houston State senior, along with his new wife, have been confirmed dead following a helicopter crash late Saturday night.

Will Byler III of Bellville and Bailee Ackerman Byler of Orangefield were both in their senior years at Sam Houston, studying Agriculture Engineering and Agriculture Communications respectively.

The Byler family has owned and operated W.T. Byler Co, Inc. since its opening in 1973 and the wedding ceremony was held on the family’s ranch in Uvalde, about 80 miles west of San Antonio.

The couple had just tied the knot and was leaving the property in a two-blade, twin-engine helicopter with the same pilot that had flown in and out countless amounts of time.

Gerald Green Lawrence served as a captain in the Army and had taken the same path earlier that day and had no problems.

But just an hour and a half after being named husband and wife, the helicopter crashed into the side of a hill although it was not discovered until daybreak.

Family and friends grew worried after not hearing from them close to midnight and had their worst fears confirmed Sunday morning.

The newlyweds were members of the rodeo team on campus and were a semester away from completing their degrees.

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