The owner of a Red Bud, Ill., self-storage facility lost his life on Saturday when he crashed a helicopter into his facility at 1290 W. Market St. Welda W. DeRousse Jr., 74, was the only person on board, according to sources. The incident took place at E-Z Self Storage at 2:03 p.m.
A witness who lives nearby said the helicopter circled in the air before slamming into the side of a storage building and bursting into flames. The vehicle was an older-model two-seater with a standard, bubble-type front, sources reported.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
DeRousse owned the storage facility since 1994. He also operated DeRousse Heating and Air from 1976 to 2010.
Born in Kellogg, Ill., DeRousse was an Army veteran who served during the Vietnam War. He was a member of the local chapters for the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also volunteered at his church as well as local hospitals and nursing homes. In addition to holding a pilot license, DeRousse enjoyed restoring vehicles, according to his obituary.
DeRousse is survived by his wife, Carol; two children, Taryn Grohmann and Damon DeRousse; six grandchildren; and additional family members. Visitation will be held Friday at Pechacek Funeral Home, with a private mass the following day at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.
Family-owned and -operated E-Z Self Storage provides traditional and vehicle storage, which includes a consignment lot. It also offers moving and packing supplies.