Navy Lt. Cmdr. Eric Purvis

Courtesy Photo

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Eric Purvis

Former local killed in Navy crash

Eric Purvis worked at ski area, coached for Winter Sports Club


— Navy Lt. Cmdr. Eric Purvis, a former Steamboat Springs resident, was among five people killed in a Navy helicopter crash May 19.

Purvis was a Navy helicopter pilot, according to a news release from the Commander Naval Air Forces. The helicopter crashed during a training operation off the coast of San Diego. The Navy still is investigating the incident.

"Eric was a wonderful father, husband, son and brother," the news release stated. "He adored and cherished his family and will be forever missed by his beloved wife and three young children."

Purvis was born in San Diego and grew up in Poway, Calif., according to the release. He was 37.

While he lived in Steamboat, he worked at Steamboat Ski Area and coached for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, family members said. Rick DeVos, executive director of the club, said Purvis worked for him at the ski area. DeVos was director of the ski school at the time.

"He was a good-looking young man, very smart, just very friendly and loved being in Steamboat and loved participating in all of the ski stuff," DeVos said.

The other crewmembers in the crash were: Lt. Allison Oubre, 27, of Slidell, La.; Naval Air Crewman 1st Class Samuel "Grant" Kerslake, 41, of Hot Springs, Ark.; Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Aaron Clingman, 25, of Bend, Ore.; and Naval Air Crewman 3rd Class Sean Ward, 20, of Lovelock, Nev.

Searchers recovered three bodies May 20 but couldn't locate the other two. Officials decided Tuesday that "aircrew survivability was extremely unlikely" and stopped search and rescue efforts, a release stated.

The helicopter, a Navy HH-60 Seahawk, was part of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron 6. The aircraft was assigned to the USS Nimitz and was operating from that ship when it went down. It crashed at 11:36 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on May 19, according to the Navy. The helicopter was on a search and rescue training flight when it crashed, according to The Associated Press.

According to Navy information, Purvis was "a highly respected naval officer and aviator (and) truly loved his chosen profession. He served with distinction on multiple combat deployments and was an exceptional flight instructor. : His family and friends miss him deeply and appreciate your thoughts and prayers in this time of loss."

Information about a memorial service for Purvis weren't available. A private Navy service is scheduled for today in San Diego.

DeVos repeatedly called Purvis "a great guy."

"I couldn't say enough nice things about this guy," DeVos said. "And I was just so excited to see his life work out there; he had a young family. : This is going to be a big loss."


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