Former coach remembers Lynchburg-area native killed in plane crash

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BEDFORD Co., Va. (WDBJ7) -- Friends and family are mourning after a local sailor was killed in a plane crash in Hawaii over the weekend.

Joshua Drablos was from Bedford County.

“It’s hard to put into words, what an athlete means to a coach," said Michael Parker, Drablos' former pole vaulting coach.

Parker had a close bond with Josh Drablos. “There is a bond that is very much family like," he said.

The 27 years old died on Friday.

He was on a skydiving plane when it crashed moments after taking off in Hawaii.

Parker remembers the moment he found out. “She said, he’s gone, and I thought he was missing," recalled Parker, the moment he received a text message from Drablos' mother.

Now, he’s trying to come to grips with the loss of such a fearless spirit. “One of the only think I know he didn’t do, he hasn’t run to the top of Mount Everest, that I know of, but if he had the chance, he probably would have.”

Parker describes Drablos as brave and daring, but most of all, caring “I’m sorry he didn’t make the altitude and be able to jump and enjoy the last ride, but I assure you his whole projection at the time of the emergency was to help the others in that plane.”

Because that’s who Drablos was, Parker says, and how he’ll always be remembered. “The Navy will miss him, the United States will miss him, great kid, great kid."

The Navy released a statement on Drablos' death saying in part; “Joshua was an invaluable member of the Fleet Cyber team, and we are deeply saddened by the loss of this humble warrior.”

Drablos’ parents are heading to Hawaii to get their son’s remains.

A memorial will be held in the Bedford County area when they come back.