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Maria Rodriguez was 'Anegadian by heart & great friend' to VI- Hon Wheatley

- Helicopter pilot died in crash in St Thomas, USVI on Monday, February 15, 2021
Maria Rodriguez was one of four persons who died in a helicopter crash in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (USVI) on the afternoon of Monday, February 15, 2021. Photo: Facebook
Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) has added his voice in expressing condolences and at the same time singing the praises of the late pilot Maria Rodriguez, who was one of four persons who died in a helicopter crash in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (USVI) on the afternoon of Monday, February 15, 2021. Photo: Facebook
Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) has added his voice in expressing condolences and at the same time singing the praises of the late pilot Maria Rodriguez, who was one of four persons who died in a helicopter crash in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (USVI) on the afternoon of Monday, February 15, 2021. Photo: Facebook
Country music star and regular visitor to the US Virgin Islands, Kenny A. Chesney, right, in a post on Facebook Monday evening, February 15, 2021, said he was saddened by the death of his friend and pilot Maria Rodriguez, left. Photo: Facebook
Country music star and regular visitor to the US Virgin Islands, Kenny A. Chesney, right, in a post on Facebook Monday evening, February 15, 2021, said he was saddened by the death of his friend and pilot Maria Rodriguez, left. Photo: Facebook
BAUGHERS BAY, Tortola, VI- Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) has added his voice in expressing condolences and at the same time singing the praises of the late pilot Maria Rodriguez, who was one of four persons who died in a helicopter crash in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (USVI) on the afternoon of Monday, February 15, 2021.

According to reports, Rodriguez was piloting the helicopter at the time of Monday's crash. Reports indicate that she along with the now-deceased passengers reportedly left the Cyril E. King Airport on St Thomas and crashed in the Botany Bay area. The cause of the fatal crash is not yet clear.

'Anegadian by heart'

"She wasn't an Anegadian by birth or privilege, but she was an Anegadian by heart. She was a great friend to the BVI and a tremendous friend to the people of Anegada," Hon Wheatley said on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, during the first edition of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) 'Let's Talk' on ZBVI 780 AM and live-streamed on Facebook.

"She really, really loved Anegada and took care of Anegada the best she could, and I really want to bring condolences to her family for them to know that we as a government really appreciate all that she has done for the people of Anegada; particularly after the hurricanes where she really went above and beyond the call of duty making sure that the people of Anegada and Virgin Gorda got evacuated or brought in medical supplies or brought in supplies in general, just to make sure that people were taken cared of.

"She is the epitome of what we expect persons who choose to live among us to be, and for that, I will say may her soul rest in eternal peace. I know she will be dearly, dearly missed," Honourable Wheatley said.

Country music star Kenny Chesney mourns

Country music star and regular visitor to the US Virgin Islands, Kenny Chesney, in a post on Facebook Monday evening said he was saddened by the death of Rodriguez.

Mr Chesney, 52, has a home on St John and spends a considerable amount of time on the island. 

"Today I have to say a very hard goodbye to my friend Maria Rodriguez in the Virgin Islands. Maria and others were killed today in a helicopter crash in St Thomas. She was a dear friend to me and to our island community. I have been flying with Maria for over 15 years, and we shared a lot of laughs and a lot of life together," Mr Chesney wrote on Facebook Monday.

He added, "She was always the first person I saw when I landed and the last person I said goodbye to when I would leave the island. I'm sure going to miss that. It's fair to say I won't ever be able to go to the Virgin Islands again without feeling the loss of her. She was such a huge part of my island life.

"So goodbye, sweet friend. I'm sure glad our paths crossed on this side. See you on the other."

Claudia Creque 'a serious loss to Anegada'

In the meantime, Wheatley also expressed his condolences to the late Claudia Creque of Anegada who passed away recently.

He said: "I really want to bring condolences on behalf of Claudia Creque, a great community person, a great teacher and her loss is definitely a serious loss to the Anegada community and indeed the BVI. So on behalf of the government, I want to give the family sincere condolences."

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