PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Friends, family and fellow students gathered at the Hillsboro Aero Academy for a candlelight vigil on Wednesday night after a plane carrying three of their own plummeted into a Newberg home just before 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Authorities say the crash killed both 22-year-old Michele Cavallotti, an instructor at the academy, and 20-year-old student pilot Barrett Bevacqua.
The third passenger, Emily Hurd, also a 20-year-old student pilot, continues to undergo treatment at OHSU after being airlifted with critical injuries.
As hundreds of people came to celebrate the life of Bevacqua, who died just short of his 21st birthday, his father Matt says he is humbled to see just how many lives his son touched.
“He brightened up a room. He had a smile that just melted you. He made other people better,” he said. “We’re blessed that we had 20 amazing years with him. And we’re going to be numb for some time as we work our way through our process.”
Described as a shooting star and a renaissance man, Bevacqua was also an accomplished athlete, chef, hunter and fisherman, according to those close to him. But his greatest passion was flight.
Matt says his son was determined to become one of the youngest pilots to graduate from the academy and was working towards becoming a certified flight instructor before the accident.
“It so happens that Michele and Emily were his roommates as well. And our hearts, my wife Haley’s and my hearts, and my daughter’s heart, go out to them as well. And we’ve kept them in our thoughts and prayers,” he said.
With candles and pictures set, as dusk turned to night, students, family and former teammates came to pay their respects to the pilot in training.
Bevacqua’s family says, while devastated by the loss, they have no reservations about his passing, as they know he died doing what he loved.
“It is what he wanted, and he was full throttle to do it. And, you know, I don’t know many people who get to go out with doing, doing what you love,” Matt said.