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Helicopter crashed 5 to 10 minutes after newlyweds takeoff

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UVALDE, Texas (AP) -(all times local):     

3:15 p.m.     

A federal official says a helicopter carrying a young couple who were married just hours earlier crashed into a rocky hillside five to 10 minutes after takeoff from a Texas ranch.     

Craig Hatch, an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said during a news conference Monday that wreckage is strewn across the hillside that rises above rugged terrain about 80 miles (129 kilometers) west of San Antonio.     

Uvalde County Justice of the Peace Steven Kennedy says William Byler and Bailee Ackerman Byler, both 24, were killed in the wreck, which occurred late Saturday or early Sunday.     

Also killed was pilot Gerald Douglas Lawrence, who Kennedy said served as a pilot during the Vietnam war. The helicopter was owned by the family of William Byler and Lawrence had been a pilot for the family for years.     

Kennedy says the couple was supposed to be flown to San Antonio where they were to get a flight for their honeymoon destination.     

Hatch says it's too early to determine what caused the crash but that a preliminary NTSB report will be issued in about two weeks.       

12:40 p.m.     

A Texas official says a helicopter carrying 24-year-old newlyweds shortly after their wedding ceremony struck a rural hillside, shattering the aircraft and killing the couple and the pilot.     

Uvalde County Justice of the Peace Steve Kennedy told the San Antonio Express-News Monday that the aircraft was carrying William Byler and Bailee Ackerman Byler late Saturday to a regional airport from where they planned to fly to their honeymoon destination.     

Kennedy says the helicopter was owned by William Byler's father but was being flown by 76-year-old Gerald Douglas Lawrence, who had piloted the craft for about 20 years.     

The Federal Aviation Administration says the crash occurred northwest of Uvalde, which is about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of San Antonio.     

It's not yet clear what factors contributed to the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is scheduled to release more details Monday.       

8 a.m.     

Family members say a Texas couple was killed in a helicopter crash just hours after they were married.     

Houston TV station KTRK reports that Will Byler and Bailee Ackerman were married Saturday night at a ranch in Uvalde, about 80 miles (125 kilometers) west of San Antonio. Byler's grandfather, William Byler, tells the TV station that the couple died when a helicopter that had departed the wedding reception crashed.     

The TV station reports that the helicopter's pilot was also killed in the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board says it's investigating the crash and the cause is not yet known.     

The Houstonian student newspaper reports that the newlyweds were seniors at Sam Houston State University.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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