‘Beautiful souls’: Family members, friends mourn newlyweds, pilot killed in helicopter crash


HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Family members are friends are remembering the young couple and pilot killed in a helicopter crash over the weekend.

On Monday, people on the campus of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville were still just learning of the tragic news.

Students and faculty are shocked that SHSU seniors, Will Byer and his new bride, Bailee Ackerman Byer, died after getting married Saturday night.

The groom’s best friend described this weekend as going from a fairytale wedding to a nightmare no one has woken up from. He said the wedding was a gorgeous celebration of a young couple very much in love.

“Beautiful, beautiful wedding, beautiful souls,” says Kyle Pasket.


Pasket said he met his best friend Will in an agriculture class at Sam Houston State. He says it’s nearly impossible to accept the sudden deaths of the young couple.

“An hour before they left on the helicopter, I was hugging and celebrating with them. Who would’ve thought something so tragic would’ve happened.” he said.

After the wedding reception in Uvalde, Texas, the couple took off in a helicopter en route to San Antonio.

The next day, they were to leave for their honeymoon. Pasket says taking off in a chopper after getting married was a family tradition.

“I can remember both of their faces, both of them waving good bye, as they took flight.” Pasket said.

On the way to San Antonio, the chopper crashed and the pilot, Captain Gerald Lawrence, also did not survive.

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Sam Houston State graduate student Rachel Green, says she went to high school with the captain’s daughter in Tomball. The daughter posted about her loss on social media.

“She was just saying that he was an experienced pilot, veteran and prayers are much appreciated for the family,” Green told KHOU 11 on Monday.

Byer, whose family owns a well-known construction company, was an agriculture engineering major.

Pasket says he “loved cattle, loved rodeo,” and was on the Sam Houston Rodeo Team.

Ackerman-Byer was an agriculture communications major. The Chair of Mass Communications says the Department is stunned that the couple died after celebrating their love.

“On a very good day for them. It’s atrocious,” says Dr. Jean Bodon.

Students are taking comfort in one thing. “The one thing that you can take away is that they did love each other very much, and at least they went together.”

The couple’s friend’s say they were due to graduate next month. At this time, funeral arrangements are still being worked out.

© 2018 KHOU

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