James Sauer, the Mercy Flight pilot who died Tuesday when the Bell 429 he was flying crashed just off Norton Road in Elba, was laid to rest today following a funeral service at Open Door Baptist in Chili.
Hundreds of first responders from throughout Western New York attended the service.
The 60-year-old husband, father, and grandfather lived in Churchville. He retired from the New York Army National Guard after 40 years in 2020. During his career Sauer also worked as a Rochester police officer, from 1993 to 2001, and for 17 years as a pilot for the State Police, retiring in 2021. He also worked for a time with the Holley Police Department.
He joined Mercy Flight in October 2020.
"Mercy Flight was his retirement job," said Scott P. Wooton, executive VP and treasurer of Mercy Flight Inc., during an emotional statement this afternoon at the Genesee County Legislatiure's Human Services Committee meeting. "He joined Mercy Flight out of a wish to continue to serve his community with his special skills.
"Not only was he an outstanding aviator, a top-class aviator, absolutely, but he was a top-class individual as well, a top-class human. He was a man who loved his family, loved his friends. And he's gonna be greatly missed."
Photos by Howard Owens, except inset photo (social media photo) and second photo.
Press pool photo courtesy Democrat and Chronicle.