Pilot killed in Silver City crash was doctor, former Air Force colonel

Created: 05/26/2014 6:23 PM
By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The pilot who was killed Friday in a plane crash in Silver City was a doctor who dedicated his life to serving veterans.

Dr. Peter Hochla, a retired Air Force colonel, would go the distance to care for veterans.

The doctor would travel all over New Mexico to see patients at VA-based clinics in Farmington, Silver City, Artesia and Roswell as well as the VA hospital in Albuquerque.

His family says 12 years ago he became a pilot because he wanted to see more patients.

Friday evening, State Police say Dr. Hochla's plane crashed outside of Silver City. Hochla and his three passengers, all students from a nearby charter school, all died in the crash. Investigators with the FAA are still looking into what happened.

The news of Hochla's death spread quickly at Albuquerque's VA hospital, where he worked as a psychiatrist.

Donald Guillotte with the VA mail services worked with Dr. Hochla for over 15 years.

"Very skilled with the veterans and stuff like that, knowing what the veterans needed to help them," Guilotte said.

Co-workers say Dr. Hochla was a caregiver who set himself apart from the others as a pilot.

And despite distance, Dr. Hochla became closer to his patients with each visit.

Peter Hochla leaves behind his wife, a son, a daughter and two grandchildren. They are asking for privacy at this time.

KOB Eyewitness News 4 is still working to confirm why the students were flying with Dr. Hochla and how he was involved with the charter school.  

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