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Northwest News Network

Two Northwest Airmen Killed In U.K. Helicopter Crash

Two airmen from the Northwest were killed in a helicopter crash in England this week. One grew up in north Idaho, the other hailed from Vancouver, Wash.

The Pave Hawk helicopter went down in a marshy nature preserve in eastern England, killing the entire four-member crew.

Twenty-eight-year-old Staff Sgt. Afton Thornton Ponce grew up near the town of Priest River in north Idaho -- “out in the tules” as one relative put it. Ponce was mother who came from a military family. Those who knew her remember Ponce as outgoing and having a great, even goofy, sense of humor.

Twenty-eight-year-old Captain Christopher Stover was one of the pilots on the Air Force helicopter. Stover graduated from Evergreen High School in Vancouver in 2004. A spokeswoman for the school district says he stayed in touch after graduating and exchanged pen pal letters with students at Harmony Elementary during his deployments.

Stover and Ponce were performing a low-level training mission when the crash occurred. The cause is under investigation.

Copyright 2021 Northwest News Network. To see more, visit Northwest News Network.

File photo of Capt. Christopher Stover speaking to a 2nd grade class in Vancouver, Wash., in the spring of 2012.
/ Evergreen Public Schools
File photo of Capt. Christopher Stover speaking to a 2nd grade class in Vancouver, Wash., in the spring of 2012.