'He Died Doing What He Loved:' USU Community Remembers Downed Pilot
On Monday afternoon, a Utah State University aviation student, Frank De Leon Compres, was killed after he crashed a plane near Hyrum, Utah.
Compres was a 21-year-old senior in the aviation program. He was a resident assistant for on-campus housing, a member of the Dominican Republic Student Association, and the USU International Student Council president. And to everyone who knew him, he was one of the great ones.
Luis Armenta, USU’s diversity VP, said Compres had many friends.
“The thing about Frank is he had a sincere love for his fellow international students, and that pushed him to be a better leader than I feel most others would be,” he said. “I just feel a tremendous loss that Utah State University, specifically international students and also domestic students, that we lost such a great leader.”
The cause of the crash is still being investigated, said Andreas Wesemann, an assistant aviation professor who helped teach Compres.
“This is the first mishap we’ve had in these airplanes,” he said. “We’ve had these airplanes for 10 years and they have some of the highest praise from Diamond for how they’re maintained. The weather was beautiful this morning. He was healthy and prepared and trained.”
Wesemann said planes have been temporarily grounded at the university’s airport until they can brief students about the accident and remind them about procedures. There are grief counselors on site to help students through the tragedy.
“I hope that from this people are more careful with their preflights,” he said. “They’re more thoughtful with their flying, more precise with following the standards that the FAA and Utah State have.”
The aviation program is holding a vigil for Compres on Thursday at 7 p.m. on the Quad at Utah State University.
“Frank passed away doing what he loved,” Armenta said. “Let’s not think so much about his passing away, but let’s honor his life in how we live this next year, and truly dedicate this next year to Frank.”