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KOMO news has identified the victims of Tuesday morning's helicopter crash as former longtime news photographer Bill Strothman and veteran pilot Gary Pfitzner.
Strothman, 62, worked at KOMO for 29 years before starting his own production company and working freelance as a specialist in aviation photography. He earned 13 Emmy awards during his career, and was known for his skill behind the camera along with an easy going demeanor.
"He was always so kind, cool and calm under pressure," says KIRO Radio's Josh Kerns, who worked with Strothman as a reporter at KOMO TV. "He never got fazed by anything, but always captured the best pictures and got the stories in a unique way others didn't. I learned so much from him."
Strothman is survived by his wife Nora, a daughter, and his son Dan, who also works as a KOMO News photojournalist.
Strothman and Pfitzner were both flying for the company leasing the helicopter to KOMO at the time of the crash.
Pfitzner, 59, was a well known pilot in the Seattle area. He was an acclaimed flight instructor for decades, who also flew for KIRO TV during the station's 4th of July coverage among his many assignments.
Former longtime KIRO TV helicopter pilot Clark Stahl remembers Pfitzner as "one of those kind of guys that absolutely loved flying."
"And I know that almost sounds like a cliche but he truly did. He came in early every morning, worked the morning shift, then went on, he had another full time job and worked another job," Stahl tells KIRO Radio's Dori Monson Show.
Stahl describes Pfitzner as a passionate, skilled and conscientious pilot who never hesitated to climb into the cockpit, with his family the only thing he cared more about than flying.