By Alan Gionet

FRISCO, Colo. (CBS4) – Under the blue skies and beneath the Tenmile Range, a small park now sits quietly near the site of one of the most heartbreaking tragedies in recent history in Frisco. A plaque tells the story of Flight For Life pilot Patrick Mahany Jr.

Mahany was killed July 3, 2015 when the helicopter he piloted crashed moments after takeoff at the end of the parking lot near St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.

Patrick Mahany (credit: CBS)

Patrick Mahany (credit: CBS)

Each day his wife works to overcome her loss. She believes the park will help.

“I miss him every day,” said Karen Mahany. “Patrick lived his life out loud. Patrick laughed every day. He found humor in everything. He found emotion in the heart everywhere he looked.”

A Flight for Life helicopter crashed in Frisco (credit: Lake Dillon Fire)

A Flight for Life helicopter crashed in Frisco (credit: Lake Dillon Fire)

Among those at the memorial, Mahany’s son Ryan, himself an Army helicopter pilot like his father. Chief Warrant Officer Ryan Mahany has completed four tours in war zones. He related the story of how he lost track in a dense cloud in February of this year after the loss of his father. Somehow his colleague pulled them out.

“He just yanked back on the controls until that aircraft leveled, And we got out of it, we landed back safe at Jalalabad and I said, ‘Jesus, Austin… what made you do that?’ and he said, ‘Ryan, it was like I had a guardian angel on my shoulder.’ Those were his exact words that he said to me. He didn’t think it was a particularly poignant statement, I sat there gasping for breath going, ‘Jesus, thanks Dad.’”

A memorial plaque for Flight for Life pilot Patrick Mahany (credit: CBS)

A memorial plaque for Flight for Life pilot Patrick Mahany (credit: CBS)

Ryan Mahany gave credit to the people who tried to rescue his father, after seeing tape of the rescue effort.

“I’ve been in war four different times and I’ve never seen that type of bravery like the way that I did that day. It was absolutely amazing,” said Mahany.

Among those who tried to help, flight nurse Dave Repsher was at the event, which in itself was an incredible story.

Dave Repsher kisses his wife Amanda (credit: CBS)

Dave Repsher kisses his wife Amanda (credit: CBS)

“We have been very much wanting to thank everybody,” said wife Amanda. “Our family, friends, community have just been phenomenal throughout these last fifteen months. It’s off the charts the support that we’ve gotten.”

Repsher, who was in top physical condition before the crash, has practically re-written medical history by surviving with burns over 90 percent of his body. He spent over a year in the hospital.

Dave Repsher (credit: Repsher family)

Dave Repsher (credit: Repsher family)

“It’s a major milestone to be out here. I am so proud of Dave. He is so courageous and I love him so much,” said Amanda.

Dave is not yet up to talking on camera. Amanda said there are many challenges ahead.

“We’ve got some medical challenges ahead of us with renal failure and hearing loss and regaining function of his hands that we will be working on every day as we go forward.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

But many who greeted him were amazed he was there at all. His perseverance is some good – inspiration that has come out of an incident that left so many hurting so much.

“He’s incredible,” said Amanda. “His willpower, his spirit, his strength, his courage, his bravery and we’ll continue to just take it day by day.”

Alan Gionet is anchor of the CBS4 Morning News and reports on a wide variety of issues and “Good Question” stories. He started at CBS4 in 1994. Follow Alan on Twitter @AlanGTV.


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