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Ms. Stephanie Waters Obituary

STEPHANIE WATERS: 1981-20081

Paramedic from Cedar Park died doing what she loved

Stephanie Waters was fulfilling her life dream by helping patients, family says.

By Sue Banerjee

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stephanie Waters was one of the few people who was able to combine two of her loves —flying and helping others — into a career, family members and friends said.

They remembered Waters, 27, of Cedar Park as a focused and passionate young paramedic who was committed to saving lives. She died in a helicopter crash about 3 a.m. Sunday while taking a patient from Huntsville to Houston.

Three other people aboard the flight, patient David Disman, flight nurse Jana Bishop and pilot Wayne Kirby, also died in the crash. The cause is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

A spokesperson for PHI Air Medical, the company Waters worked for, said Monday that the helicopter was awaiting night-vision equipment recommended by federal transportation officials in 2006. The goggles could decrease the crash risk during night flights, but agencies have been put on waiting lists because the Iraq war has caused a shortage.

"They died in the line of duty, and every public service provider feels this," said Scott Parker, field commander for Marble Falls Emergency Medical Services.

Waters' mother, Pam Gower, worked with the Marble Falls EMS for 12 years, starting as a volunteer and then becoming a full-time paramedic. Family and friends say Waters was inspired at an early age by her mother's dedication to helping others.

"Stephanie was a special and remarkable child who was always more focused on what she was going to do with her life, and she was inspired to get into EMT services because of her relationship with her mom," said Jackie English, pastor of the Christ Redeemer Fellowship in Granite Shoals who has known the family since 1991.

In Gower's view, her daughter chose her own path and was inspired by many people in her life.

"There was a boldness about her to go after whatever was out there," she said. "She loved her motorcycle, enjoyed hiking and took a trip to Paris by herself. She was just brave."

Waters graduated from Marble Falls High School and immediately joined an ambulance unit in Phoenix, Ariz. She worked with several local emergency service providers and served part-time as an instructor at schools around the state. She met her husband, Christopher Waters, while teaching a class at Central Texas College in Killeen.

"The last time I talked to her on Saturday night was when she helped save a 2-year-old drowning victim on her last flight," said Waters, a City of Austin paramedic. "She started her flying career in 2006 because it was something she really wanted to do."

Her dedication to serving others was exemplified by her willingness to commute to Bryan from Cedar Park to go out on medical missions for PHI. She also loved taking care of her three dogs and had a strong faith.

"God was a big resource in her life, and given the things we see in this profession, there's no other way to get through it," Gower said.

In the end, her mother said she was comforted by the thought that her daughter was fulfilling her dreams and died while saving the lives of others. "Some people never get to live their dreams, " Gower said. "She was living hers."

Published in Austin American-Statesman from June 9 to June 14, 2008
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