The helicopter crash in the rain and fog early Sunday in Prince George's County took the lives of three Waldorf residents and a Carroll County man.
The incident began late Saturday night when two recent Westlake High School graduates were heading home by car in Waldorf and the driver lost control of her Ford Taurus, causing it to cross the median, hit several trees and crash into another car.
A Maryland State Police medical helicopter was sent to the scene. Rescue workers decided to take the girls to Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly. The onboard team included a Waldorf emergency responder who volunteered to accompany the girls, the pilot from Waldorf and a paramedic from Carroll County who monitored the girls involved in the car crash.
The helicopter encountered bad weather and crashed shortly after midnight in Walker Mill Regional Park, killing the rescue team and Ashley J. Younger, one of the girls involved in the car crash. The other teen, Jordan Wells, survived. She is in critical condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
Following is information about the victims and what happened that night:
Bunker and his wife, Sherry, had lived on the same street in the Lancaster neighborhood in Waldorf for 20 years. The retired state police corporal and father of three was well known and respected in Waldorf.
"If you looked at him, you would say, 'He just looks like a police officer,' " said Rose Marie Drish, 42, who has lived across the street from Bunker for 20 years. "There was a lot of peace here in this neighborhood because of him."
Bunker was a state police officer from 1972 until his retirement in 1998. He returned to service as a civilian medical evacuation pilot for the department.
He loved aviation and helping people, so "being a pilot for the Maryland State Police enabled him to do both," his wife said in a statement. During his career, she said, Bunker and his colleagues saved many lives.
"He was a hero to his family and all who knew him," she said. "He died doing what he loved to do."
Bunker's three children -- Stacie, Shelby and Scott Bunker -- said he was a fantastic father who will be missed by everyone.
"My father has always been a role model in my life," Stacie Bunker said in a statement. "He taught me to be honest, work hard, and keep life in proper perspective. He is truly my hero."
A viewing for Bunker will be tomorrow from 2 to 8 p.m. at South Potomac Church, 4915 Crain Hwy., White Plains. The funeral will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at South Potomac Church.
Minutes after the car crash Saturday night, two ambulances from Waldorf's Station 12 headed to the scene.
In one ambulance was Mallard, a volunteer emergency responder and mother of two boys who began volunteering with the station in May 2004, although she had taken a year-long break recently.
When responders decided that the teens needed to be flown to Prince George's Medical Center, Mallard volunteered to accompany them.
"Tonya stepped up and said, 'I'll go with them,' " said Dan Stevens, Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department chief.
At 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Stevens received a call at home: The helicopter was overdue.
Stevens and dozens of other volunteers went to the station to wait for updates. At 2:45 a.m., police confirmed that Mallard had died when the helicopter crashed.
At 5 a.m., about 40 volunteers gathered in a circle at the fire station and took turns describing their feelings, Stevens said. Many recalled their last encounters with Mallard, the tall, compassionate and friendly woman with an "infectious smile."
"People say, 'That could have been me. That should have been me,' " Stevens said.
On Sunday afternoon, volunteers lowered flags at the three Waldorf stations and draped the buildings with black fabric. "I can't stand draping a building," said Sue Perry, a professional county emergency medical technician who helped affix the fabric to Station 12. "It could have been any of us."
Dozens of people stopped by Mallard's home in Waldorf to offer condolences to her husband, Ken, and their sons, ages 11 and 15.
A viewing will be held tomorrow at Lighthouse Baptist Church, 3150 Middletown Road, Waldorf, from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. Mallard's funeral will be at 9 a.m. Saturday at Waldorf's North Point High School, 2500 Davis Road.
Younger always answered her cellphone with these words: "House of Beauty, Miss Cutie speaking." She was energetic, outgoing, friendly, caring and very fashionable. Her style? "Bohemian Chic."
"She would let me come visit her at college only if I promised to look like a mama but not an old maid," her single mother, Stephanie Younger, said Monday.
Younger graduated from Westlake in June and was a freshman at Frostburg State University, where she studied accounting, had joined numerous clubs and "was having a blast," her mother said.