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Phase 3: 20.854166666667% (10.01)
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Fallen Heroes Details



In Memory Of
Erin Hehl
Illinois State Police, IL
End of watch: 1997-10-30
Aircraft: Eurocopter AS350
Trooper Erin Hehl, 34, died while receiving flight training at Frankfort Airport at around 0345 hours. The aircraft tipped, rolled over and burst into flames. Also killed was Pilot George Kurelic, a civilian who had contracts with both the State and Chicago police.

Trooper Hehl, who had been a unit TFO throughout its two year existence, gained a helicopter rating in mid-September and had 70 hours flight time logged. She was an 11-year veteran of the state police, and the first woman to work in the department's aviation unit. She also had worked in the state police marine unit, making her the first female trooper to serve on land, sea and air. She was highly respected by her colleagues and by the citizens she served, as demonstrated by the 1,300 mourners who attended her funeral and the five-mile long procession of cars that followed her casket to the cemetery.

Thoughts and Memories of Erin Hehl

I worked in the helicopter unit with Erin, during the night shift. Night shift is when most pursuits and criminal searches happen. Erin was very professional in her duties as observer, when I worked with her. She was very articulate with both crewmembers and ground units. She could walk officers into a criminal and affect the arrest every time. She came to have a great reputation among officers from every jurisdiction, since our search would broadcast throughout the entire Chicago area (on ISPERN). They knew if they heard her voice that the bad guy may run, but they could not hide from "Air One". She was very proud to be a trooper and especially an "Air One" unit member.

She was very supportive and helpful to me as I applied with the Illinois State Police. I know she must have been equally proud to begin her flight training, when I was beginning my training as a trooper. I still remember when she would call her 5 year old son, before he went to sleep every night, to remind him that "Mommy loves you".
Trooper Scott Moran
2009-02-11
I never had the chance to meet Erin because she passed before I met my husband, but my husband Jeff talks of her often and says she was a very loving and fun person. He said she had a warm and tender heart and was proud to be an officer. I wish I would have met her I know I would have loved her...not as much as he did but I know we would have been great friends. Jeff said they shared a lot of laughs and he misses her dearly and thinks of her often. We love you Erin and jeff misses you so much....keep singing with the angels and we will see you in heaven.
Benita Palenske
2008-09-29

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