News

Kenny Chesney Mourns Death of Friend Killed in Helicopter Crash

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Kenny Chesney is mourning the death of his close friend Maria Rodriguez, who passed away in a helicopter crash in St. Thomas.

The country star shared the news in a message on Instagram, along with photos of Rodriguez.

"Today I have to say a very hard goodbye to my friend Maria Rodriguez in the Virgin Islands," Chesney wrote. "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. She was always the first person I saw when I landed and the last person I said goodbye to when I would leave 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."

According to the St. Thomas Source, four people died in the crash, which took place on Monday, Feb. 15 at around 3 p.m. local time.

Rodriguez was a decorated helicopter pilot who won the HAI Salute to Excellence Appareo Pilot of the Year Award for her actions during Hurricanes Irma and Maria, during which she left her shelter to fly support missions, according to Aviation International News. She opened her own helicopter companies, Caribbean Buzz and Caribbean Buzz Management, and once flew U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Rodriguez also had an interest in photography. Her photos captured the reality of life on the Virgin Islands after the devastating storms.

Chesney lives in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sales from Chesney's 2018 album Songs for the Saints went to his Love for Love City Foundation.

recommended for you

Kenny Chesney Mourns Death of Friend Killed in Helicopter Crash