My heart is heavier than an anvil tonight.
John Lancaster, a.k.a. Ransom Sloan, has been a key behind-the-scenes person here at Hoofcare & Lameness for the past five years or so. No, you don't know him, you've never met him. And you never will. But if you read our journal, you've seen his photos, appreciated his Photoshop artistry, and been the beneficiary of his generosity, as have I.
John was killed, we think, in a helicopter crash this morning south of Vermilion, Louisiana. He was a helicopter pilot and instructor (when he wasn't helping out Hoofcare & Lameness) and had a gig this winter servicing oil rigs in the Gulf out of Lake Charles, LA. Apparently they were trying to land on the rig when the chopper exploded.
I have known John since I was fresh out of college. We both lived in the Woodstock, Vermont area and were in the horse scene. John was the product of a unique alternative school project started by his family and his mother was the president of the horse show facility where I worked.
John came back into my life about ten years ago when I found out he was a ski instructor in Vail, Colorado and that he had married another Woodstock-area horsewoman, Lisa Simons, who went on to become a farrier and then a veterinarian and hoof researcher. Lisa Lancaster is, of course, a key person here and our star author, as well as a close friend. Her upcoming article in the new issue on the histology of the white line at the crena will dazzle you with its insights and its imagery...many of which are the handiwork of John Lancaster.
John was also instrumental in handling the editing and assembly of the material for the book The Sound Hoof, written by Lisa, and he created her info-packed web site, http://www.lancasterequine.com.
The last time I saw John was when he hosted a graduation party for Lisa in May at Michigan State. He was so proud of Lisa's survival of vet school, and I think so happy that they could move back to Colorado and see what next would happen in their lives. With two people that talented, the future looked very bright that day in May.
The Coast Guard is still looking for our friend John out there in the Gulf tonight. Pray for a miracle before you turn off your lights. Maybe leave one on for our friend John.