Frisco renames post office after fallen Flight For Life pilot Patrick Mahany

Karen Mahany, touches the plaque and the Frisco's U.S. Post Office location, named after her late husband, Flight For Life Pilot Patrick Mahany, during a dedication ceremony Thursday, June 6, along Main Street in Frisco. Patrick Mahany died in July 2015 after his Flight for Life helicopter crashed into the parking lot near St. Anthony Summit Medical Center after takeoff.
Hugh Carey /

A large crowd piled into the Summit County Community & Senior Center on Thursday afternoon to take part in an emotional ceremony to dedicate the Frisco Post Office in the name of Patrick Mahany.

Mahany, a veteran of the Vietnam War and a 27-year pilot with Flight For Life, was tragically killed after his helicopter crashed outside of St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco on July 3, 2015. Almost four years after the crash shook the community, friends, family members and representatives around the state gathered for the post office’s renaming and to pay tribute to a man who dedicated his life to helping others.

“Our post office is a hall of Frisco, and it is important to remember those who make sacrifices to protect and serve others in our great communities of Frisco, Summit County and Colorado,” Frisco Mayor Gary Wilkinson said. “Our post office is a gathering place in the community where people interact and come together and see each other on a daily basis. The naming of our post office in remembrance of Patrick Mahany will honor not just him but all of those who serve our community every day.”

Members of Mahany’s family were present at the ceremony, sharing some of their memories of him and reflecting on the impact he made on their lives and around the community. Karen Mahany, Patrick’s wife, said her husband loved and laughed intensely, and was always willing to make sacrifices to help others.

“It struck me then, and it still strikes me today, that that’s who he was,” Karen said. “He was willing to do whatever it took for his crew, for the people that he loved. He told me that he really truly learned about unconditional love when he served in Vietnam — being willing to do whatever it takes for someone who’s standing next to you, whether you know them or not. That’s who he was as a person.”

Karen ended her statement with a call to action for community members, asking them to take time out of their day to thank military veterans for their service — an especially visceral request on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. She also asked community members to display American flags on July 3, the anniversary of Mahany’s death, and on July 4, his favorite holiday.

Other family members also spoke at the ceremony, including Mahany’s son, Ryan, and brother, Kevin, who urged the crowd to remember Patrick for more than the crash and to reflect on the many communities outside of Summit that Mahany’s death impacted, including in Texas, Maine and New York.

“The last thing we should all think about when we think about Patrick Mahany is the last 30 seconds of his life,” said Ryan, who followed in his father’s footsteps and serves as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army. “Because the 64 years before were glorious. … Don’t remember the crash because it’s not the defining moment of his life. His legacy is not that crash at all. His legacy currently resides down in Texas, and they’re 5 years old and 7 years old,” Ryan said, referring to Mahany’s grandkids.

At the ceremony, it became clear how impactful Mahany’s death has continued to be over the past several years. Gov. Jared Polis was in attendance and spoke about how new legislation informed by Mahany’s crash and pushed forward by Karen Mahany will create better safety standards for helicopter pilots and crews moving forward.

Last year, Congress passed new regulatory measures requiring helicopter manufacturers to install crash-resistant fuel tanks on new emergency helicopters.

“Of course the devastation was compounded knowing that Patrick’s death could have been prevented with proper safety regulations that really weren’t required because of loopholes that had been created in previous laws,” Polis said. “But we were also inspired, and we’re all safer, and it will save many other lives that Karen turned her grief into passion, really sparking a movement pushing for protecting others from suffering the same fate.”

In addition to new regulations for helicopter manufacturers, the crash also inspired the introduction of the Safe Helicopters Now Act in Congress by Rep. Joe Neguse. The bill would create a tax credit to help retrofit emergency medical helicopters with crash-resistant fuel systems.

“While we’ve made great strides in terms of ensuring that safety improvements are made to new helicopters, the same cannot be said for existing helicopters,” Neguse said. “It’s important that we take the next step so that every single helicopter in the United States is retrofitted with these important safety measures. That’s why we introduced the legislation we have, and that’s why we’re working each and every day that I’m lucky enough to serve in Congress on that front, so we can truly honor Patrick’s memory.”

Following the ceremony, the congregation made its way to the post office, which officially was renamed as the Patrick. E. Mahany Jr. Post Office Building.

“By immortalizing Patrick here today, future generations will truly learn of his dedication, his bravery and his service,” Polis said.

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