'I had to tell the kids daddy won't be coming home' - heartbroken wife of pilot killed in helicopter crash
Mark Stoxreiter, the pilot killed in a helicopter crash last week while transporting a team of health professionals, will always be remembered for his kindness and great sense of humour.
For his family his death still feels unreal, but they will cherish the memories shared.
One of the hardest tasks his widow Candice faced was telling their two children their father will never come back home.
“We have a very open relationship with our children and I very caringly shared the news that daddy won’t be coming home,” she said.
Stoxreiter, Dr Kgopotso Rudolf Mononyane, Dr Curnick Siyabonga (Siya) Mahlangu and Mpho Xaba, all from Netcare Milpark Hospital, and Sinjin Joshua Farrance of Netcare 911 were killed when the helicopter in which they were travelling crashed in KwaZulu-Natal last week.
Stoxreiter was the pilot from National Airways Corporation (NAC).
On Friday Candice told TimesLIVE she met Stoxreiter through mutual friends in 2002. The couple had been married for more than 10 years.
“Mark was a perfectionist and a professional in everything he did. He was such a gentleman, loving father and incredible husband who had a great sense of humour and so much passion for his motocross,” she said.
Candice said before he died they had plans to move from Centurion to Hartbeespoort Dam, where Stoxreiter always wanted to settle.
She said Stoxreiter was training to compete in MX motocross races and always wanted to build his own hot rod.
“He spoke about this constantly. He had goals to do more outside activities with our two children, like camping and fishing,” she said.
Candice said she found out late last Thursday afternoon that her husband had died in the crash.
“I was filled with disbelief and thought I just had to find my husband and bring him home.”
On Wednesday morning this week, the families of the victims visited the crash site.
Netcare described it as a painful day punctuated with deep shock and disbelief. It said a “moving ceremony” was held for the “five extraordinary individuals who lost their lives in a tragic helicopter accident near Winterton in KwaZulu-Natal last week”.
The mourners travelled in convoy from Johannesburg to the crash site in the uThukela district early in the morning.
“A cloud-covered day dawned over the city and the Hillbrow Tower was appropriately shrouded in mist as the vehicles made their sombre journey to a remembrance service for the five fallen heroes. Along the route, colleagues from emergency medical services, the police and members of the public silently stood vigil as the convoy passed,” Netcare said.
In a field on a farm near Winterton, five white crosses mark the site where Mononyane, Mahlangu, Xaba, Farrance and Stoxreiter died in the line of duty.
“It was very sad seeing the burnt ground and where he lay when they found him. I will remember him as a blessing from God, incredible father and my undoubtable kind and amazing husband,” Candice said.