On March 1st, 2019 my dear 28-year-old nephew Derek was flying a Piper PA-25-235 banner plane in Ft. Lauderdale over Hollywood Beach. It was his first "official" paid day as a Banner Pilot after he had recently completed several weeks of banner flight training with his new employer. For unknown reasons, the plane he was piloting took a sudden turn and later crashed into a condominium, taking his life. Derek was the only occupant of the plane and thankfully no one else was injured. At this time, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash.
This sudden, tragic loss has affected our family and Derek's friends in a way that words cannot begin to describe. Derek was just starting out in his career as a Commercial Pilot. He graduated from Central Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Aviation, "Magna Cum Laude" and obtained his Commercial Pilot's Certification in Maine prior to moving to Ft. Lauderdale to start his new banner plane job. Derek's ultimate goal was to become a Commercial Pilot for a larger airline. However, his time on this earth was cut too short preventing him from achieving his dream.
From a very young age, Derek was fascinated with airplanes and all he wanted to do was become a pilot. He had the support of his family in achieving his dream and was encouraged to pursue it. Unfortunately, Derek had some challenges early on in his life. He experienced the tragic loss of his father just 6 days prior to his 6th birthday. His father was also fascinated with airplanes and the last present he was able to give Derek prior to his passing was a toy airplane.
Derek was a lover of nature and enjoyed the great outdoors of Washington State. Growing up, he sought after new adventures that he could experience with his closest friends. Derek would be best described by his family and friends as an intelligent, driven, inspiring, adventurous and fearless man.
As Derek's Aunt, I felt the need to initiate this fundraising campaign to help support Derek's mother Amber. These funds will help her take care of Derek's personal matters and manage other expenses she may encounter as she copes with the loss of her eldest son. I ask that you join me in holding his mother close in your hearts and in your prayers. Any donation amount will be greatly appreciated and will help his mother. Thank you! Renee