OAKHURST, Calif. (KGPE) – An All-American man is how Madera County Supervisor Tom Wheeler describes Bradley Foster, the 29-year-old Oakhurst native and Navy pilot who was one of five sailors who died in a helicopter crash off the coast of San Diego last week.

“It’s just a great loss for us up here. God got a real angel when he got Bradley,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler was a school board member in Oakhurst and a family friend of the Fosters. He says Bradley was a leader among his classmates, an impressive water polo player, and an honorable Eagle Scout.

“He was a true leader. He was one of those special kids who you knew was going to make it and be really special for our area,” Wheeler said.

According to the Navy, the crash occurred from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, which was conducting routine flight operations. Officials have not explained the circumstances of the accident.

Bradley is survived by his wife and their child as well as his mother and brother. He was a graduate of Yosemite High School, where Wheeler says he was adored by students and teachers alike.

“You could see that they all looked up to him, he was a leader…” he said.

It’s a loss that will be felt by the entire community.

“Everybody knows everybody here…it’s hard on our community when we have bright, young men like that die tragically, protecting our country…” Wheeler said.

The Navy says an investigation into the incident is underway.