Families, Friends Mourn Tragic Deaths
BY MARK A. KELLNER, News Editor
ess than 48 hours after a tragic airplane crash that killed seven adults and seven children near the airport in Butte, Montana, family and friends of the victims are in mourning. Many are offering thoughts about those who were killed in the disaster.
“The Feldkamp and Pullen families are devastated over this tremendous loss. There are no words to describe the heartbreak of losing two daughters, two sons, and five precious grandchildren,” said a statement from Adrian Cotton, who is married to Maggie Feldkamp, sister of Vanessa Feldkamp Pullen and Amy Feldkamp Jacobson, who were among the adult victims in the crash.
“We also lost a dear family friend, Bud Summerfield, who was the pilot of the airplane. These individuals were extraordinary, each having given so much to the world, and with so much more to offer. We thank you for everyone’s prayers during this difficult time,” the Cotton statement concluded.
Brent and Kristen Ching, two of the six adult Seventh-day Adventist victims, were regularly in attendance at the Chico and Paradise, California, Adventist churches, along with their children, Hailey, and Caleb. All four were killed in the crash.
“We are devastated by the sudden loss of our beloved Brent, Kristen, Hailey, and Caleb. They were a family that loved being together in the great outdoors. They were always smiling and a joy to be around. To be with family and friends was so important in their lives. We will miss them greatly. We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support that we have received,” a Ching family statement said.
Paradise Church senior pastor Ben Maxson remembered the Ching family as well: “They were a very happy couple who were part of our young adult group in our church family and will be deeply missed," he said.
Along with the Chings, Dr. Erin Jacobson, his wife Amy Fedlkamp Jacobson, Dr. Michael Pullen and his wife, Dr. Vanessa Feldkamp Pullen, also perished in the crash. Each couple’s children were also on board and were also killed.
The three couples had attended and/or graduated from church-owned Pacific Union College in Angwin, California. PUC president Richard Osborn issued a statement noting the loss.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and our prayers are with the victims’ families,” Osborn said. “This is a very personal tragedy for Pacific Union College and our local community. All but one of the adults on board the plane graduated from or attended PUC, and there are many on our campus who remember them as students. Our alumni are also grieving this loss, as are many in the St. Helena and Angwin communities who knew and loved the Jacobson family.”
Erin Jacobson, 37; Amy Jacobson, 35; Jude Jacobson (boy), 2; Taylor Jacobson (pink shirt), 4; Ava Jacobson (blue shirt), 3. (Photo: Briana Marie Clark-Forgie)
Dr. Erin Jacobson practiced ophthalmology in St. Helena and the Jacobsons were members of the PUC campus church.
"Both Erin and Amy were strong in their faith and dedicated to service," said Pacific Union College Church associate pastor John Hughson.
At Loma Linda University, where six of the seven adult victims had received postgraduate education in medicine, dentistry, dental hygiene, or nursing, the deans of the three schools released a joint statement.
“Words cannot express the sadness we feel for our colleagues who are family members and friends of those who lost their lives. Numbered among the many who now mourn are those who serve with us in our educational and health ministries,” the statement said.
“Our prayer is that our Lord will give us a special measure of His mercy as we share the deep sadness of this loss and as we reach out in love to embrace those who are grieving,” the deans’ message concluded.
Dann Dodd, principal of the Lodi Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School in Lodi, California, noted that the Pullen’s children had “been here since kindergarten,” and that both parents were active supporters of the school.
“They were an ‘All-American’ family,” Dodd recalled in a telephone interview. “They were very supportive; they looked for things to do [for the school], mom more than dad since mom was [a] part time [physician], I believe.”
Dodd said the Pullen children were “always happy. They were a genuine family, a neat family.”
Funeral and memorial service arrangements are still pending.