Hundreds gather at memorial service to honor crew of fatal Care Flight crash
RENO, NV (KOLO) - On Wednesday, emotions overflowed at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center as hundreds paid their respects to all who were lost on board the medical plane that crashed last month.
Between hugs and tears, REMSA Health staff, family, friends, and the community remembered the lives of Ed Pricola, Ryan Watson, and Guardian Flight pilot Scott Walton. They were on board the Care Flight that crashed the night of February 24 after only being in the air for 15 minutes.
“They were willing to show up and give the best of themselves, in the most challenging of situations,” said Adjutant Major General Ondra L. Berry, Nevada Guard.
Prior to the solemn act, a procession of first responders made its way through town. Starting at Walton’s Funeral Home, located at Vine and 2nd Street, and ending at the convention center.
“The Care Flight family is forever indebted to their service and sacrifice,” said Vanessa Coyle, director of critical operations at Care Flight.
One impactful moment was when the final dispatch call was played during the memorial service.
“Care Flight 56 dispatch attention all personnel, there is no answer for Care Flight 56. This is the final call for Care Flight 56. You answered the call and made the ultimate sacrifice. You served the community well and now it is time to rest.”
After making the ultimate sacrifice Pricola, Watson, and Walton were presented with their wings, a symbol of their commitment to caring for the most critically ill.
“Which they earned before we had the opportunity to present them,” said Coyle.
As the community mourns these crew members, they want the family of the victims to know their hearts are with them during these hard times.
The family of the patient and his spouse who also died in the medical transport plane didn’t take part in this memorial and has requested that their privacy be respected.
GoFundMe accounts have been set up for all five killed in the crash. They can be found in this article.
A REMSA Health-Care Flight Community Condolences webpage is also available for those who would like to offer messages of love and support.
According to a press release, prior to the memorial, the crew members’ families shared their heartfelt thoughts and memories about their loved ones:
Ed Pricola, BSN, Care Flight Nurse ”Ed was protective, humble, and trustworthy,” said Pricola’s loved ones. “He treasured every moment of being a father to Riley and Everett. His wife of six years tenderly describes him as the calming presence to her stormy nature. Together, they pursued their interest in fitness and traveling. Ed served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” for Valor for saving the lives of five Marines in Afghanistan. He enjoyed mountain biking, rock climbing and was an avid skier. After working in an ancillary services department in a hospital setting, he decided to pursue a career in nursing and set his sights on joining the Care Flight team. Ed will always be remembered for his loyal and loving nature.”
Ryan Watson, EMT-P, Care Flight Paramedic ”A father, husband, son, friend, paramedic, and flight paramedic, Ryan was kind, compassionate, adventurous and loving, but also knew how to put a smile on someone’s face,” said Watson’s wife. “Our travels around the world included his favorite trip to Switzerland where we trekked more than 100 miles through the mountains. He also particularly enjoyed our time in the Amazon with the Nevada Building Hope Foundation - a group that provides arts, education, and humanitarian aid locally and internationally. Ryan was thrilled to learn he was going to be a father and was excited to raise his son, Carter, to give back to the community, learn about different cultures through travel, and work to make his dreams come true.”
Captain Scott Walton, CFI, CFII, Guardian Flight Pilot ”Scott was the light in every room he walked into and formed instant connections with everyone he met,” said the Walton family. “He lived life to the fullest, bringing unceasing joy to those around him. Scott never missed an opportunity to make the world a better place with a kind word, a smile, or inspiring bravery. Flying was his true calling, and he found immense purpose as a medevac pilot, helping patients in critical situations get to the care that they needed. Our family extends our gratitude for the outpouring of kindness and support we have received during this difficult time.”
The patient and his spouse The family of the patient and his spouse lost on board have requested that their loved ones’ names not be included in communications at this time. We hold them close in our hearts and ask that their privacy be respected.
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