The pilot of a CalFire S-2T air tanker that was based at the Hollister Airport and crashed at the Dog Rock Fire burning near Yosemite National Park was identified as Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt, 62. The former U.S. Navy pilot died Oct. 7 in the accident in what is described as rugged terrain. The cause of the crash had not been determined by Wednesday afternoon.

“We continue to mourn the tragic loss of Craig,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CalFire director. “We know wildland firefighting is an inherently dangerous job, but Craig made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Hunt, who also spent 20 years in the Navy reserves, is survived by his wife, Sally. He earned a master’s degree in business from the University of Southern California and a master’s in biochemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and served as a chemistry teacher in the off season at UCSC. He had a love for flying, golfing, fishing, hiking, bird watching, scuba diving, math/sciences, teaching, and dogs.

“My dad died a hero,” said his daughter, Sarah Hunt Lauterbach. “There was not a day that went by that I didn’t talk to my dad. He was my best friend.”

A statement released by the Hollister Police Department, which is located across the street from the airport and the Hollister Air Attack base at which the air tanker was based, said, “The City of Hollister and its staff offers its condolences to the family and friends of the CalFire pilot lost early last evening. Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot’s family and his extended CalFire family during this challenging time…The City of Hollister supports our friends at CalFire as they risk their lives to protect us each day.

CalFire grounded all of the S-2T tankers statewide in order to check them out for possible mechanical issues.