Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


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Bighorn Heroes

Three TPWD employees perish in helicopter crash during survey.

Three Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees died in a helicopter crash on August 8 at Black Gap Wildlife Management Area while conducting aerial surveys for desert bighorn sheep.

The victims were wildlife biologist Dewey Stockbridge, fish and wildlife technician Brandon White and state wildlife veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar. The pilot, a private contractor, survived the crash.

“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident,” said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. “These men were consummate professionals, deeply liked and highly regarded by their peers and partners alike for the immense passion, dedication and expertise they brought to their important work in wildlife management and veterinary medicine.”

Dr. Robert Dittmar was the agency’s first-ever staff wildlife veterinarian. Originally from Harper, he became a veterinarian to better serve his ranch and improve local wildlife and animal health. With 30 years of veterinary experience, “Dr. Bob” began work at TPWD in 2014, helping the agency diagnose and respond to the complexities of health and disease issues that affect Texas wildlife. He worked with bighorn sheep, pronghorn, white-tailed and mule deer, as well as small and nongame species. Dr. Bob worked closely with wildlife biologists, hunters and landowners to conserve and protect Texas wildlife. Dr. Bob and wife Bernadine were married nearly 41 years; he was about to retire.

Dewey Stockbridge, 36, was the lead wildlife biologist at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area, south of Alpine in Brewster County. His office was 23,000 acres of wild Trans-Pecos habitat, where he helped manage and conserve the wildlife. Originally from Mason, he began his career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 2005. Dewey was instrumental in restoring pronghorn and desert bighorn sheep to their native range. He was an avid outdoorsman, hunting and fishing with friends and family. As Dewey and wife Shannon began raising their two young children, son Jameson and daughter London, he passed that love of the outdoors and a respect for nature on to them.

Brandon White, 52, was a fish and wildlife technician at Elephant Mountain WMA. Originally from Spur, Brandon was an avid outdoorsman from the time he learned to ride bareback on his horse Snapper as a boy. Brandon began his career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 2016 and played a vital role in preserving the health of Texas wildlife. He assisted with surveys and translocations for bighorn sheep and pronghorn, activities that are essential to ensuring these animal populations thrive for years to come. A tough man who worked from dawn to dusk, he loved and laughed just as fiercely and gave away more than he ever had. He leaves behind his wife Leti and children.

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