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Marine veteran pilot killed in helicopter crash remembered as clever, joke-loving husband, father

Bonnet Carre Spillway (Ken Lund/WikiCommons)

There wasn’t much that Joshua Hawley couldn’t do once he set his mind to it, according to his relatives.

The 13-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran was an Eagle Scout, a paramedic, a boat mechanic, an airplane mechanic, the family IT guy, an electrician, a husband and a devoted father to his three boys, ages 3, 4 and 7.

“He was about the smartest guy I’ve ever met,” brother David Hawley, 40, said Wednesday.

Joshua Hawley, 42 of Denham Springs, also had a passion for flying. A helicopter pilot and instructor, his brother described him as a conscientious aviator who took safety very seriously.

That’s why family members and colleagues were left stunned by the news that Hawley had been killed in a helicopter crash on the Bonnet Carre Spillway in St. Charles Parish Tuesday afternoon.

“He was well respected and a huge advocate of safety. They’re all just flabbergasted,” Hawley’s cousin, Tiffany Patrick, 43, said after speaking with some of his fellow pilots.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration opened an investigation into the cause of Hawley’s crash, which occurred about 12:30 p.m. on the Interstate 10 bridge over the Spillway.

Hawley was the only person aboard the Bell 407 helicopter, which was en route from Gonzales to the Lakefront Airport in New Orleans to pick up three passengers, according to authorities.

With heavy fog in the area, Hawley’s helicopter reportedly hit an Entergy Louisiana transmission line before crashing into the highway’s eastbound lanes.

A by-the-book pilot, Joshua Hawley was a local representative of the Federal Aviation Association’s Safety Team, which helps promote pilot safety. He routinely read NTSB reports and chatted with David Hawley, also a private pilot, about the best way to stay safe in certain situations.

“He was a good and capable pilot,” David Hawley said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get a satisfactory answer about how this happened.”

Joshua Hawley grew up in Prairieville, part of a large family, according to Patrick. He had always been a tinkerer who could fix just about anything that moved.

After graduating from St. Amant High School in Ascension Parish in 1997, he entered the U.S. Marine Corps and served for 13 years as an aircraft mechanic, David Hawley said.

Joshua Hawley received his emergency medical services certification and volunteered as a paramedic while in the military. He also gave his time as a volunteer firefighter, according to his brother.

“Joshua was always a helper. He was calm and level-headed. If you needed something done, he was there,” David Hawley said.

After leaving the Marines, Joshua Hawley worked for four years as a paramedic with the East Baton Rouge Emergency Medical Services Department and wore a second hat helping the agency with technology upgrades, EMS spokesman Mike Chustz said.

Hawley’s father was a small-airline pilot and flight had been a lifelong family fascination, David Hawley said. Joshua Hawley began training to become pilot while still working as a paramedic, spending many of his days off at the Baton Rouge airport.

“You could see he was determined to achieve that goal of becoming a pilot, and there was nothing that was going to stop him,” Chustz said. “It was something that was kind of in his blood.”

Joshua Hawley earned his pilot’s license about seven years ago and was finally able to get a job flying, David Hawley said. In addition to working for various companies, Joshua Hawley opened Airspeed Flight Service, a part-time business that offered aerial survey flights and helicopter instruction.

Hawley was working for Five S Group construction as a fleet and technology manager at the time of his death, according to relatives and his LinkedIn page. The Baton Rouge company declined to comment on Wednesday.

Hawley kept it strictly professional at work. But when it came to his family, “He was Mr. Wonderful. Everything was flowers and ranbows,” said Todd Tessier, a helicopter mechanic who worked with Hawley.

“I know he loved his children. I know he loved his wife,” Tessier said.

Hawley could also be a bit of a goofball with a passion for bad jokes, the cornier and groan-inducing, the better, his family said.

“He definitely had a lot of bad and dad jokes in his repertoire,” Patrick said.

Hawley’s family have circled around his wife, Carley, and his sons, Wyatt, Daniel and James, as they try to process his loss.

“It has certainly taken us by surprise,” David Hawley said. “He was doing what he loved.”

In addition to his wife, children, brother and father, Joshua Hawley is survived by his sister, Jessica Harrison, his stepmother, Raye Ann Hawley, and a host of aunts, uncles and cousins.

Relatives and friends have created a GoFundme to help support Joshua Hawley’s wife and children. Those who wish to donate may do so at by visiting https://bit.ly/325rA8X.

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