Former Arizona State Swimmer Stephen Estes 1 of 2 Killed in Helicopter Crash

Former Arizona State swimmer Stephen Estes is one of two men who were killed in a helicopter crash in Fountain Hills, Arizona on Tuesday morning.

According to Van Horn Aviation, experimental test pilot Rucie Moore and Estes, an engineering manager, were on board the helicopter when it crashed just after 7AM on Tuesday morning. Moore was a former helicopter test pilot for the U.S. Army and was also a full-time faculty member at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Estes graduated from Arizona State with a Master of Aerospace Engineering degree and had been on VHA’s staff for 5 years. VHA says that he “was instrumental in the design and analysis of current rotor blades. He also went above and beyond in providing excellent technical and customer support.”

“We mourn the loss of our friends during this tragic accident,” said VHA president Dean Rosenlof. “Both men contributed greatly to the design and development of our most recent rotor blade designs. Their passing will leave large holes in our company and they will both be missed personally and professionally.”

The two were on board a Bell 206B JetRanger: a helicopter that went out of production in 2010. This line of helicopters, among other uses, is often used by news media for traffic and news reporting.

While a member of the Arizona State swim team from 2009-2013, Estes was struck by a truck on the freeway while riding his bike that launched him 15 feet through the air. Even after that, he went on to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100 breaststroke. While recovering from the crash, he became a backgammon master, at one point ranking as high as #7 in the world. He was a first team Pac-10 All-Academic selection.

Estes was also the Arizona 5A State Champion in the 100 yard breaststroke in 2008.

VHA says that they are working with “local, state and federal authorities in their investigation of the accident.”

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Sad to lose such a brilliant and gifted person. Deepest condolences to family and friends.


Really good guy. Sad to hear.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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