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Two Northwest Airmen Killed In U.K. Helicopter Crash

Two airmen from the Northwest were killed in a helicopter crash in England this week . One grew up near the banks of Priest Lake in north Idaho, the other hailed from Vancouver, Wash.

The Pave Hawk helicopter went down in a marshy nature preserve in eastern England, killing the entire four-member crew.

Twenty-eight-year-old Staff Sgt. Afton Thornton Ponce grew up near the town of Priest River in north Idaho — “out in the tules” as one relative put it. Ponce was mother who came from a military family. Those who knew her remember Ponce as outgoing and having a great, even goofy, sense of humor.

Twenty-eight-year-old Captain Christopher Stover was one of the pilots on the Air Force helicopter. Stover graduated from Evergreen High School in Vancouver in 2004. A spokeswoman for the school district says he stayed in touch after graduating and exchanged pen pal letters with students at Harmony Elementary during his deployments.

Stover and Ponce were performing a low-level training mission when the crash occurred. The cause is under investigation.

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