Care Flight Nurse Ed Pricola, BSN; Care Flight Paramedic Ryan Watson and Guardian Flight Pilot Captain Scott Walton, CFI, CFII were honorably recognized.
March 8, 2023 (RENO, Nev.) – An honor procession and memorial service was held today to recognize the medical transport plane crew members who lost their lives in the line of duty Friday, Feb. 24, 2023 outside of Stagecoach, Nevada.
Gathering at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Care Flight-REMSA Health leadership, staff, family members, the community, first responder agencies, healthcare partners and dignitaries paid their respects to Care Flight crew members Ed Pricola, BSN, Care Flight nurse; Ryan Watson, Care Flight paramedic and Captain Scott Walton, CFI, CFII, the pilot for Guardian Flight, the aviation vendor for Care Flight’s fixed-wing transport program. The family of the patient and his spouse did not participate in the memorial and has requested that their privacy be respected.
Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve were in attendance and speakers included: Major General Ondra L. Berry, Adjutant General for the State of Nevada, REMSA Health President and CEO Barry Duplantis and Director of Care Flight Operations Vanessa Coyle.
“Today we gathered to honor the lives of our Care Flight crew members, Ed Pricola and Ryan Watson. We recognize their immense contributions to healthcare and EMS response across the region. We also paid respects to Captain Scott Walton, the Guardian Flight pilot for his service. We extend our deepest condolences to their families and that of the patient and his spouse,” said Duplantis. “Ed and Ryan epitomized the heart and soul of our organization with the highest integrity, compassion and commitment to the communities we serve. REMSA Health and Care Flight could not be more proud of their contributions and care they provided for our community. We are deeply grateful to have worked alongside them.”
Prior to the memorial, the crew members’ families shared their heartfelt thoughts and memories about their loved ones:
Ed Pricola, BSN, Care Flight Nurse
“Ed was protective, humble, and trustworthy,” said Pricola’s loved ones. “He treasured every moment of being a father to Riley and Everett. His wife of six years tenderly describes him as the calming presence to her stormy nature. Together, they pursued their interest in fitness and traveling. Ed served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” for Valor for saving the lives of five Marines in Afghanistan. He enjoyed mountain biking, rock climbing and was an avid skier. After working in an ancillary services department in a hospital setting, he decided to pursue a career in nursing and set his sights on joining the Care Flight team. Ed will always be remembered for his loyal and loving nature.”
Ryan Watson, EMT-P, Care Flight Paramedic
“A father, husband, son, friend, paramedic, and flight paramedic, Ryan was kind, compassionate, adventurous and loving, but also knew how to put a smile on someone’s face,” said Watson’s wife. “Our travels around the world included his favorite trip to Switzerland where we trekked more than 100 miles through the mountains. He also particularly enjoyed our time in the Amazon with the Nevada Building Hope Foundation – a group that provides arts, education, and humanitarian aid locally and internationally. Ryan was thrilled to learn he was going to be a father and was excited to raise his son, Carter, to give back to the community, learn about different cultures through travel, and work to make his dreams come true.”
Captain Scott Walton, CFI, CFII, Guardian Flight Pilot
“Scott was the light in every room he walked into and formed instant connections with everyone he met,” said the Walton family. “He lived life to the fullest, bringing unceasing joy to those around him. Scott never missed an opportunity to make the world a better place with a kind word, a smile, or inspiring bravery. Flying was his true calling, and he found immense purpose as a medevac pilot, helping patients in critical situations get to the care that they needed. Our family extends our gratitude for the outpouring of kindness and support we have received during this difficult time.”
The patient and his spouse
The family of the patient and his spouse lost on board have requested that their loved ones’ names not be included in communications at this time. We hold them close in our hearts and ask that their privacy be respected.
“We want to offer our deepest condolences to the families of the five people on board Care Flight N273SM,” said Jared Sherman, chief operating officer, Guardian Flight. It is a terrible loss for all involved. The community has surrounded the families with kindness and support. We also appreciate the privacy and respect shown toward the families during their time of loss. We will continue to support the families alongside REMSA Health, Care Flight and Guardian Flight.”
Preceding the memorial, a dignified transfer began at Walton’s Funerals and Cremations – Sierra Chapel, accompanied by families of the deceased and first responder agencies from across the region.
Colleagues and community members paid final respects to Pricola, Watson and Walton laying mementos and photos on a memorial display at the reception.
A REMSA Health-Care Flight Community Condolences webpage is available for those who would like to offer a message of condolence, love and support. Many have posted heartfelt words that provide comfort for crew members and their families.
A Care Flight Memorial Fund has been established for those lost. Donations can be made online at remsahealth.com/donations.