Three people killed in a mid-air helicopter crash in Riverside County Sunday night have been identified.
In a statement Monday morning, Gov. Gavin Newsom released the identities of the fallen firefighters and pilot who died while responding to a brush fire near Cabazon.
They were CAL FIRE Assistant Chief Josh Bischof, 46, CAL FIRE Fire Captain Tim Rodriguez, 44, and contract Pilot Tony Sousa, 55.
“On behalf of all Californians, our thoughts and heartfelt sympathies are with the loved ones, friends and CAL FIRE colleagues mourning the loss of Assistant Chief Bischof, Fire Captain Rodriguez, and Pilot Sousa,” Newsom said in the statement. “This terrible tragedy is a reminder of the dangers our courageous firefighters face daily while working to keep our communities safe. We owe them our deepest respect and gratitude and will always honor their bravery and sacrifices.”
The governor ordered flags at the state Capitol and Capitol Annex Swing Space be flown at half-staff.
In a tweet Monday, CAL FIRE also extended condolences to the victims’ family and friends.
The crash occurred in a remote area near Pipeline Road and Apache Trail around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
One helicopter was landed safely and no one was injured, while the second helicopter crashed, killing all passengers onboard.
The collision caused an additional 4-acre brush fire which was later extinguished, officials said.
Fire crews were battling a 20-acre fire called the Broadway Fire that had spread from a structure fire near Broadway Street and Esperanza Avenue earlier that night.
The circumstances surrounding the crash remain under investigation, which will be handled by the National Transportation Safety Board.