SAN ANTONIO - A family ski trip ends in tragedy, when a small plane crashed in New Mexico Sunday, killing all four people aboard. Two of them were from the San Antonio area. Monday the identities of the people onboard that flight were released. They were returning to Texas after meeting friends and family for a ski weekend.
The single-engine plane went down shortly after it took off from the airport in Angel Fire, New Mexico, about 150 miles east of Albuquerque. Strong, gusty winds were blowing at the time.
The pilot of that small plane worked at SyberJet Aircraft in San Antonio. John Verhalen designed aircraft systems and was an experienced pilot. One of his passengers was his girlfriend Jennifer Woodward.
They made a beautiful couple, 33-year-old pilot John Philip Verhalen, and his girlfriend Jennifer Woodward, who was just 26.
The two flew up to Angel Fire after stopping in the Dallas area to pick up two of John's relatives, his sister Sarah Verhalen of Carrollton, and his niece Chloe Jameson.
Jennifer Woodward's father, who lives in Schertz, described to News 4’s Jaie Avila how he will remember his daughter.
“Full of life. She was 26, had her degree, she was working for Joeris General Contractors. She was the kind of kid, she wasn't a kid she was a young woman, who always had a smile on her face,” Bill Woodward said.
Bill Woodward and his wife were in Angel Fire with their daughter and saw her for the last time the morning of the crash. The parents drove back to Texas and received the terrible news in a cell phone call that evening as they were driving through Kerrville.
Bill Woodward says the winds in Angel Fire weren't very strong while he was there, but must have picked up later Sunday. He doesn't blame his daughter's boyfriend for the crash, but rather, had confidence in John Verhalen as a safe pilot.
“Bad things happen and we don't always understand. I have a belief the good Lord's going to take care of all of us. My daughter is in a better place, and so is John,” Woodward said.
John Verhalen was well known in the aviation community. Before joining SyberJet he worked at Boeing. Just last week he surpassed 500 hours of flight time, most of that in his beloved Mooney M20E.