Image from Jamie Brokaw's Facebook page.
DETROIT (Det. Free Press) -- Brad Hasler was married in a small ceremony about two weeks ago.
But his life came to a tragic end Monday when he and six other civilians, all but one of them from Michigan, were killed when a cargo plane crashed after taking off from Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.
"He was just a great fun guy," said neighbor and friend Krista Oetjens, 38. "He loved life. There was never a dull moment with him. I just can't believe this happened. I'm in shock."
Six people from Michigan were on the plane, which was carrying vehicles and general cargo from Afghanistan to Dubai, when it crashed just after takeoff about 7 a.m. EDT within the perimeter of Bagram Air Base. Initial reports had put the Michigan casualties at five.
Killed in Monday's crash were pilots Hasler of Trenton and Jeremy Lipka of Brooklyn; First Officers Jamie Brokaw of Monroe and Rinku Summan of Canton; loadmaster Michael Sheets of Ypsilanti, and maintenance crewman Gary Stockdale of Romulus. Timothy Garrett of Louisville, Ky., also was killed.
Brokaw's Facebook page lists his original hometown as Three Rivers in southwest Michigan.
It's not clear what caused the Boeing 747-400, operated by National Air Cargo, to go down. Eric Weiss, a spokesman with the National Transportation Safety Board, said investigators with his agency would be assisting Afghan authorities in the crash investigation.
Oetjens said Hasler, 34, left behind a 2-year-old daughter and an older stepdaughter.
She said he'd lived next door to her in their tidy Southgate neighborhood for about nine years until he moved recently. She said she has been crying since she learned of her friend's death.
Hasler, who liked to boat and fish, was a 1996 graduate of Gabriel Richard Catholic High School in Riverview. Principal Joe Whalen said Hasler was an assistant captain of the school's hockey team and played tennis.
Brokaw's relatives declined to comment. Neighbor Jeanette Nickel said Brokaw, whom she described as a good neighbor, was married and had a stepdaughter.
"I was so sad to hear the news. It's a terrible loss," Nickel said.
Glen Joerger, president of National Airlines, declined to provide additional information about those killed in the crash. The company is now based in Orlando, but previously operated out of Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti.
"Safety is always our top priority at National Airlines," Joerger said in a release on the company's website. "This is a devastating loss for our family, and we'll work diligently with authorities to find the cause. Most importantly, our thoughts and prayers are with our crew members and their families."
The Taliban initially claimed responsibility for downing the plane, but NATO officials dismissed the claim.
By Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press staff writer