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Family remembers 72-year-old truck passenger killed by helicopter blade in Palm River

Posted at 11:17 PM, Apr 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-15 23:36:58-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. -- The family of a Hillsborough County man killed in a freak crash involving a helicopter and a pickup truck in Palm River is sharing their memories of a loving husband and father.

Ryan Persaud witnessed that terrifying moment a helicopter went down in the middle of a busy Tampa intersection.

The helicopter’s rotor blade struck his truck, killing his father, 72-year-old Deodat Gangapersaud, who was a passenger.

“The way it happened, it’s so horrific and tragic,” Persaud said.

RELATED: Helicopter crashes onto busy Tampa highway, rotor blade hits truck, killing passenger

ABC Action News sat down with Gangapersaud’s family on Monday. They say he loved the outdoors, gardening, singing, and dancing.

“I’m still in shock,” said wife Grace Gangapersaud. “My life changed completely since that day.”

The retired security guard from was a father of five and grandfather to eight children.

“I’m scared to sleep, when I sleep I look over and he is not there,” Grace said.

With shards of glass still in his right arm, Ryan Persaud’s injuries will eventually heal but his life, and so many others are forever changed by a freak accident.

Gangapersaud's family is raising money in his honor for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) because of his passion for dogs.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the deadly crash. The report states the mechanics were working on the helicopter on the day of the crash.

The mechanics replaced the fuel servico unit and did not notice any issues. The pilot tried to fly the helicopter to Sarasota airport but the helicopter lost power 15 minutes later. This forced them to attempt the landing on the roadway.