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Published: Wednesday, 4/13/2005

Toledo man is missing after deadly helicopter crash; Clyde native works for Halliburton Co.

BY STEVE MURPHY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The family of a Toledo man working for a military contractor in Afghanistan is waiting anxiously for word on his fate after a helicopter crash last week.

Sy Jason Lucio, 27, was listed yesterday as missing by his employer, Halliburton Co., which said he was presumed to have been on board the CH-47 Chinook that crashed April 6. According to the Pentagon, 15 soldiers and three civilian contractors were killed in the crash, which occurred about 100 miles southwest of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Sally Nelson of Clyde, Ohio, Mr. Lucio's mother, said she was holding on to slim hope yesterday that her son had not been aboard the doomed helicopter.

"I know that it's 99 percent sure, but there's always that 1 percent," she said yesterday. "Until they get that DNA, there's a chance."

Ms. Nelson said her son had been working in Afghanistan since January as an electrician, assisting U.S. military forces who are fighting Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. She said he put his life on the line for his country in the same way as the soldiers he assisted.

"They work beside the military. They're in as much danger. The only difference between my son and the military people that were in that helicopter was that he didn't have a gun," she said, her voice breaking. "He's just as much a hero as everybody else on there."

Ms. Nelson said she last spoke to her son by phone early on April 5, the day before the crash.

"He said they were moving him again, that was pretty much it, that he was going to be moving again," she said. "I asked him why, and he said he couldn't tell me over the phone.

"The last thing I said to him was, 'Be safe,'‚óŹ'' she added, breaking into tears.

Ms. Nelson said her son, a member of Local 8 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, joined Halliburton because he had been unable to find work locally.

He traveled to the defense contractor's Texas headquarters in early January for about two weeks of training and then was flown from there to Afghanistan.

She said he had been intent on finding a job so he could support his 2 1/2-year-old son, Lars. Before taking the position with Halliburton, he had worked in Boston and other out-of-state locations.

"There's no work in Toledo for the electricians," she said.

"He'd gotten laid off, his name was on the books, and he needed something to take care of his son."

Ms. Nelson said her son was scheduled to be in Afghanistan for a year and had been looking forward to a visit home in June.

"That was his main goal, because of his son," she said.

"He was such a good daddy. I knew he'd be a good father, but he exceeded my expectations."

Mr. Lucio's father, Stanley Lucio, Jr., who lives in Toledo, said his son is a strong-willed person who takes his responsibilities seriously.

"He had strong beliefs, and he was willing to fight for them," Stanley Lucio said.

"He believed in the union. He believed in his son and taking care of him. He believed in God."

Mr. Lucio had an interest in politics and was elected in March, 2004 to the central committee of the Lucas County Democratic Party.

He grew up in Clyde and attended Clyde High School and the Vanguard Sentinel Career Center in Fremont. At 17, he moved to the Swanton area to live with his father and attended classes at Penta Career Center, earning a diploma from Swanton High School in 1996.

Mike Urbine, an electrical instructor at Penta who taught Mr. Lucio, said his former student was enthusiastic about his chosen career.

"He seemed to have a clear head on his shoulders, a highly energetic individual. He was a pleasure to work with," Mr. Urbine said.

"He was kind of adventurous. I can see him going to foreign lands and working for a big contractor. Sadly, these are high-risk jobs."

Cathy Putnam, secretary for IBEW Local 8, said Mr. Lucio wasn't alone in seeking work overseas.

"It's sad that Sy and a couple more members over there are working there because of the lack of job opportunities here," Ms. Putnam said.

"Had we had enough job opportunities here, they wouldn't have had to find work there."

Blade Staff Writer Erica Blake and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Steve Murphy at:

smurphy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6078.



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