Friends remember Mercy Flight Pilot James Sauer as dedicated servant to community and country

ELBA, N.Y. (WHEC) — Tributes are pouring in for Mercy Flight Pilot James Sauer. He’s being remembered as a dedicated servant to not only his community but also his country.

News10NBC Reporter Patrick Moussignac talked with a few local law enforcement officials who are remembering one of their own. Everyone he talked to was still shaken up by the news of Sauer’s death, but they also recognized the fact that Sauer excelled as a pilot despite all the dangers he faced while flying.

"It’s hard to say anything bad about a man who has a great family, great friends, great work ethic," New York State Police Trooper Mark O’Donnell said.

Sauer and his training pilot were killed Tuesday afternoon after their helicopter crashed in Elba. Sauer was a retired New York State Police Pilot.

"Thoughts and prayers go out to the family. We certainly will be present with them because he is a trooper, brother, forever and ever," O’Donnell said.

Sauer was also a member of the Rochester Police Department.

"He left us, he was here from ’93 to 2001, and he left us to do exactly what he was doing cause he felt it was a higher calling, and our thoughts and prayer are with his family. You know we appreciate everything he’s done for the community," said Interim Chief David Smith.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter was a close friend. He recalled the last time the two were together.

"Just seeing him on Easter Sunday. Gave him a hug goodbye as we chatted and that was the norm. You know you’d see him around church, again he was just becoming to the point that he had more time on his hands, and wanted to serve more in the church environment," Baxter said.

Former Gates Police Chief Jim VanBrederode talked about one lasting memory of Sauer.

"Some of the things that I remember more specifically I called over there wanting to bring my kids over a tour of the helicopter. He was the most sincere individual. Met us there let my kids play on the aircraft," VanBrederode said.

Although Sauer has logged more than 6,000 hours of flying time, he was on a training mission at the time of the crash.

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Executive Vice President of Mercy Flight Scott P. Wooton sent News10NBC the following statement Wednesday night:

"I just wanted to take a moment to inform you that there is no additional information regarding yesterday’s tragic accident available as of right now. The Mercy Flight family continues to mourn the loss of our coworker and friend Jim Sauer, and Bell Flight Instructor Stewart Dietrick. We appreciate your continued support and patience during this difficult time, and will provide additional information as soon as it becomes available."