TCSO pilot laid to rest following deadly crash

Posted at 11:17 PM, Feb 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-21 02:17:58-05

Tulare County Sheriff's Pilot James Chavez was laid to rest Saturday morning following a funeral service at Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Hanford.

Hundreds of friends and family honored the former Black Hawk pilot, who died on February 10th along with Sheriff's Deputy Scott Ballantyne after their plane crashed in Springville.

"James was a civilian pilot but I've got to be honest with you, for all of us in our office, he was a deputy sheriff," said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.

The two were returning to routine patrol after assisting in the arrest of a man brandishing a gun in the Springville area.

There was no distress call or deployment of parachutes before the crash. 

On Friday, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report on the crash. It said that the plane made a hard left turn while flying at a low altitude. The plane was then destroyed by a post-crash fire.

Sheriff Boudreaux recalled the accident at the funeral.

"None of us thought we would be carrying our teammates off that hill," said Boudreaux.

"But all of us knew that it easily could have been us."

Sheriff Boudreaux added that the accident was an examploe of the daily perils of their job.

"Only those in this field of work really understand the dangers, but yet, somehow ignore it because we're invincible. And on days like this we bong together so tightly because we realize we are not invincible."

The funeral service for Deputy Ballantyne will be held on Monday in Visalia.