Friends and family gather to honor fallen Flight For Life pilot Patrick Mahany
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the cause of the Flight for Life crash.
FRISCO — For the friends and family of Patrick Mahany, five years has felt like five minutes.
Dozens of community members gathered at Mahany Heroes Park outside St. Anthony Summit Medical Center Friday morning to honor the Flight For Life pilot who died five years ago in a helicopter crash. Dr. Regan Brockmeyer, interim director of medical affairs and Emergency Department physician at the hospital, welcomed the group.
“It’s kind of hard to find words on that day,” Brockmeyer said at the ceremony. “It’s been five years, which is really hard to fathom that it’s been that long, but yet it seems like it’s been five minutes.”
On July 3, 2015, Patrick Mahany and crew members Dave Repsher and Matt Bowe crashed into the parking lot outside St. Anthony Summit Medical Center just seconds after take off. The helicopter collided with another vehicle and sparked a large fire. Investigators later determined that an antiquated non-crash resistant fuel system exacerbated severity of the resulting fire. Patrick Mahany, who was 64 years old at the time, died later that day.
Repsher and Bowe survived, though Repsher sustained burns on 90% of his body. He later won a $100 million lawsuit against the helicopter’s manufacturer.
A New York native and Vietnam Veteran, Patrick Mahany’s Flight For Life pilot career spanned 27 years. In that time, his hardworking and humble personality touched those who knew him.
“We miss Patrick on a daily basis,” Brockmeyer said. “I stare at his picture in the (emergency room) every day. Sometimes I feel like he’s messing with me and I like it. Weird noises happen and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s Patrick.’”
Thomas Resignolo, who is the emergency medical service coordinator at the hospital, said Patrick Mahany would have pegged the ceremony as “ridiculous.”
“He would have said, ‘This is ridiculous, go back to work,’” he said. “He would’ve had a couple of expletives in there too. He was a very, very humble and modest man.”
Karen Mahany, Patrick Mahany’s wife, shared an excerpt from the Bible, with a line that Patrick Mahany carried with him in his wallet.
“After Patrick passed away and I was given his watch, his wedding ring and his wallet. I looked inside his wallet and there was a crinkled piece of paper that had obviously been there a very, very long time,” she said.
The sentence on the piece of paper read, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
“With the (National Transportation Safety Board) investigation and hearing … afterward investigators came up and told me ‘you know that piece of paper that was in Patrick’s wallet, not only did he live it, but he died it,’” Karen Mahany said. “‘He did everything with that aircraft that was humanly possible to make sure those two crew members survived.’ And they said, ‘Go forward knowing that he loved his crew enough to do that for them.’”
The speakers at the memorial also took time to pray for Repsher and Bowe’s continued recovery.
“Patrick was a force to reckon with and (I) thoroughly enjoy and miss his presence, but he’s always there with us,” Brockmeyer said. “And hoping that Dave continues a speedy recovery as well as Matt Bowe.”
Rev. Tema Nnamezie, Flight For Life chaplain Betsy Phelan, Rev. Lydia Wittman and chaplain Karen Johns also shared readings and spoke at the event along with Brockmeyer and Karen Mahany.
Every year the event brings the hospital community together and reminds them of the bond they share, Resignolo said.
“It’s a pretty tight family here,” he said. “We all stick together … We honor the memories and we honor the sacrifice that Patrick made by being here for this day.”
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