Air Force Capt. Christopher Stover, 28, who grew up in Vancouver and graduated from Evergreen High School in 2004, was one of four crew members killed in a helicopter crash in England on Tuesday evening.
Capt. Stover was serving a three year deployment in England, and also did tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to his family. He was married in December 2012 to his wife, Sarah, who lives in England.
His parents, Rick and Mari Stover, live in Vancouver.
A close family friend, who says Stover was like a son, calls him witty, athletic and energetic.
"We were so surprised and just devastated," said Rosie McNutt.
McNutt remembers the day Stover visited her second grade class a couple years ago after they sent cards and candy to him in Afghanistan.
"You would have thought the President of the United States was coming to our classroom because they were so excited," McNutt said. "He talked about being a student at Harmony [Elementary School] and really talked to the kids about work ethic and perseverance."
His former high school teacher describes Stover as a stand-out student.
"It wouldn’t matter if I was trying to scold him," Patti McMaster said. "He would do something silly, and make me laugh."
McMaster said Stover was one of few students who stayed in touch and always wanted to give back.
"He was one of those kids who, every time he was home, he would take time out of his day and come by and say, 'Let me take you for coffee.'"
McMaster taught Stover's "We The People" Constitution Team in 2004, so she plans to honor him at the state championship this weekend with a ceremony and said all the students will wear special ribbons.
"He was a real leader in what we try to promote with community service, with understanding the purpose of government and with strong academics," McMaster said. "As a collective group, this really honors his service, his academic success and it just says thank you."
Capt. Stover was a pilot on an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter that was performing a low-level training mission when the crash happened, according to the Royal Air Force Lakenheath website. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Stover's family released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
On behalf of the Stover family, my wife, my daughter and my daughter-in-law, and I want to express our deepest appreciation of the support and prayers we have received from our extended family, friends, co-workers and people that knew Chris.
Chris was doing what he truly enjoyed, flying. Chris touched so many lives and left everyone better for it. We are proud of his service to our country. We all miss him so very much.