A veteran Culpeper County crop duster died June 18 when the helicopter he was piloting struck a dove line and crashed in a field just north of Goldsboro, North Carolina.

The victim was Eugene John Kritter III, the owner of Kritter Cropdusting at Ground Rush Farm on Mount Pony Road near Stevensburg, the North Carolina Highway Patrol said.

Dove lines are thin steel wires suspended above farm fields to encourage doves to perch, for hunting.

The first news reports said the helicopter had struck a power line.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported that “Gene” Kritter’s Robinson helicopter was spraying corn when it went down at 5:23 p.m. Thursday, June 18. Only the pilot was on board.

Less than a week earlier, Kritter had turned 65 and celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary with his wife, Lynne.

Eugene “Gene” Kritter founded his crop-dusting company in 1992 after graduating from George Mason University with a degree in biology.

Kritter is survived by his wife and their three daughters, Elena, Dani and Josie.

As an aerial applicator for the past 28 years, Gene served farmers in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina, according to a June 25 article in the National Aerial Application Association‘s e-newsletter.

The family plans to hold a memorial service for Gene Kritter at their 150-acre farm on Saturday, July 11, starting at 5:30 p.m.

The family asks that donations in Gene’s memory be made to Sisters of the Skies, a charity that supports minority women in the aviation industry. Click here to make an online donation or visit sistersoftheskies.org to learn more about the group’s mission.

The Federal Aviation Administration investigated the Goldsboro accident, and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine its probable cause.

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