Carson City man killed in Navy crash |

Carson City man killed in Navy crash

by Kurt Hildebrand and Teri Vance, staff writers
Medical personnel roll a crew member from a Navy HH-1 helicoptor crash near Lake Isabella, Calif., into Ridgecrest Regional Hospital in Ridgecrest, Calif., Thursday, March 28, 2002. The crash killed two crew members and injured four others. (AP Photo/Daily Independent of Ridgecrest, Darla A. Baker)

A Carson City man killed Thursday in a Navy helicopter crash left behind a pregnant wife and infant daughter.

Lt. Cmdr. Arthur Jason Bayer, 36, had just started a family after attending Navy test pilot school, his grandmother Gertrude Ritterby said Friday.

“He was a great loss to us,” she said.

Bayer was one of two crew members killed in the accident, which occurred at about 1 p.m. Thursday.

Petty Officer Charles Chaco, 22, from Agat, Guam, also died in the crash. Four passengers received minor injuries.

The helicopter had taken off around 9:30 a.m. on a routine flight from the China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division.

Bayer is the son of Carson City attorney Arthur Julius Bayer and Merry Ann Bayer, a Carson High School teacher who died in 1999 and has a scholarship named after her.

“My daughter did a real good job of raising both our grandchildren,” she said. “She really put her heart into raising her children.”

Ritterby said Bayer had been married to his wife, the former Ann Eckles of Scottsdale, Ariz., for some time.

Ann Bayer is pregnant with the couple’s second child, due in July. Bayers’ daughter, Gabriella Ann is 1 year old.

Bayer was transferred in February to Naval Air Station Lemoore in the Central Valley from China Lake Naval Weapons Center in Ridgecrest, Calif., where his wife and children live.

His father is presently in Ridgecrest with the family, according to his office staff.

A 1984 Carson High graduate, Bayer attended the University of Southern California before joining the Navy.

“We’re from a military family,” Ritterby, whose husband, Carl, served in the Air Corps in World War II and later retired.

Once in the service, Bayer applied to pilots school. When he graduated, he was stationed in Japan and had been attached to a carrier air wing, according to his grandmother.

“His life was the military,” she said. “I keep telling my granddaughter that Jason was doing what he was happy to do. I think he really aspired to be an astronaut. That’s why he wanted the test pilot school on his resumZ.”

Bayer was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Reno. He grew up in Carson City and played sports for Carson High School.

Norm Scoggin, former Carson High School vice principal, remembers Bayer as an exceptional student who made good grades and played football.

“If you could pick a child, Jason would be the one you’d pick,” Scoggin said. “He was just an outstanding young man — very talented.”

Crash survivors included Lt. Cmdr. Ric McCarthy, 49, of Ridgecrest; Lt. Sean O’Brien, 31, of Punxsutawney, Pa.; Petty Officer Damien Ramey, 19, of Pine Hill, N.J.; and Petty Officer Megan McKee, 20, of Moore, Okla.

Three received minor injuries and the fourth complained of severe back pain.