SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Two Florida men contributing to aid efforts in Haiti were killed when their helicopter crashed into a mountain in neighboring Dominican Republic, officials and family members said Friday.
Pilot John Ward, 43, of Fort Myers, Florida, and co-pilot James Jalovec, 53, of Naples, Florida, were returning from Haiti on Thursday night when their R44 II helicopter crashed into a mountain in the western Dominican province of Dajabon, said Dominican Civil Aviation Institute spokesman Pedro Jimenez.
Family members in Florida confirmed the men's identities.
Jalovec's son Mark, 21, of Boynton Beach, Florida, said his father and Ward were friends, and wanted to do what they could to help the victims of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti last month.
"He said, 'I'm a guy. I have a helicopter. I can go there and do something, rather than just give my credit card number to someone,'" Mark Jalovec said.
James Jalovec, owner of a sewage-hauling company, contacted a group of Wisconsin doctors who frequently traveled to Haiti and flew several of them into the Dominican Republic over the weekend, his son said.
"It was a pretty risky thing," Mark Jalovec said. "Everybody who knew he was going down there had fear that something bad was going to happen."
One of the firefighters at the scene, Angel Belliard, said that emergency responders found medicine scattered around the crash site.
In addition to his son Mark, Jalovec is survived by a son Phil, 24, and a daughter, Jamie, 18.
(This version CORRECTS one of the victims' last names to Jalovec instead of Jalove). )