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Six PUC Alumni Lost in Montana Plane Tragedy

Julie Z. Lee, March 24, 2009
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L-R: Brent Ching, 37, Caleb Ching, 3, Hailey Ching, 5, Kristen Ching, 31. Photo provided by Bradley Ching


Clockwise: Michael Pullen, 39, Christopher Pullen, 7, Sydney Pullen, 9, Vanessa Pullen, 37. Photo provided by Adrian Cotton.


Clockwise: Erin Jacobson, 37, Amy Jacobson, 35, Ava Jacobson, 3, Taylor Jacobson, 4, Jude Jacobson, 2. Photo by Briana Marie Clark-Forgie

On Sunday, March 22, 2009, Pacific Union College lost six alumni in a fatal airplane accident. The crash, which took place in Butte, Montana, claimed the lives of 14 people, seven of which were children under the age of ten.

Brent Ching ('93), Kristen Mautz Ching (att.'96-97), Erin Jacobson ('96), Amy Feldkamp Jacobson (att.'93-95), Michael Pullen (att.88-91), and Vanessa Feldkamp Pullen (att.'89-90) all attended PUC and went onto Loma Linda University. Close family friends, they often vacationed together. On this occasion, the friends were headed to a ski trip in Montana.

PUC President Richard Osborn said in a statement, "We are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and our prayers are with the victims' families. This is a very personal tragedy for Pacific Union College and our local community. All but one of the adults on board the plane graduated from or attended PUC, and there are many on our campus who remember them as students. Our alumni are also grieving this loss, as are many in the St. Helena and Angwin communities who knew and loved the Jacobson family."

There were three families lost in this accident: the Chings and their two children, Hailey, 5, and Caleb, 3; the Jacobsons and their three children, Taylor, 4, Ava 3, and Jude, 2; and the Pullens and their children, Sydney, 9, and Christopher, 7. Amy and Vanessa were sisters; a total of nine Feldkamp family members were onboard the plane.

Erin Jacobson, M.D., was an ophthalmologist with practices in St. Helena and Napa. His family also attended the PUC Church. Many in the Angwin and St. Helena communities knew the family, along with Erin's father, John Jacobson, a Cardio-thoracic surgeon at St. Helena Hospital. Erin's wife, Amy, worked as a dental hygienist part-time.

Erin, his father, and brother-all of whom are physicians and PUC alumni-also funded the Breakthroughs in Science Lecture Series in honor of Terry Trivett, Ph.D., professor emeritus of biology at PUC. The series invited world-renowned scientists, including Nobel Prize recipients, to campus.

Brent Ching, D.D.S., had a dental practice in Chico, California, and his family attended the Chico and Paradise Adventist Churches. His wife, Kristen, had a degree in nursing from Loma Linda University. "Brent, Kristen, Hailey, and Caleb loved being together in the great outdoors," said a representative from the Ching family. "They were always smiling and a joy to be around. To be with family and friends was so important in their lives. We will miss them greatly."

Michael Pullen, D.D.S., and Vanessa Pullen, M.D., lived in Galt, California, and their family were members of the Lodi-English Oaks Adventist Church. Relatives describe them as "the perfect American family," who were accomplished and talented individuals and very "down to earth."

The Feldkamps were a very close-knit group. According to a family spokesperson, the extended Feldkamp clan got together several times a year for vacations and family events.

"The Feldkamp and Pullen families are devastated over this tremendous loss. There are no words to describe the heartbreak of losing two daughters, two sons, and five precious grandchildren," said the family spokesperson in a statement. "These individuals were extraordinary, each having given so much to the world and with so much more to offer."

Bud Summerfield, the pilot, was the seventh adult who died in this crash. He was an experienced pilot and a longtime family friend of the Feldkamps, having flown for them for six years. He leaves behind his wife, Janet.

PUC Alumni

Brent Ching graduated from Pacific Union College in 1993
Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, graduated 1998

Kristen Mautz Ching attended PUC, 1996-1997
Loma Linda University School of Nursing, graduated 2000

Dr. Erin Jacobson graduated from Pacific Union College 1996
Loma Linda University School of Medicine, graduated 2000

Amy Feldkamp Jacobson attended PUC, 1993-1995
Loma Linda University School of Dentistry Dental Hygiene, graduated 1997

Michael Pullen attended PUC, 1988-1991
Graduated from Walla Walla University
Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, graduated 1999

Vanessa Feldkamp Pullen attended PUC, 1989-1990
Graduated from Walla Walla University
Loma Linda University School of Medicine, graduated 1998

Memorial Services

Media Information: Please refer all questions about media presence at the service to Julie Z. Lee (707) 965-6303,

The Ching Family Memorial Service
March 28, 2009, 4 p.m.
Neighborhood Church of Chico
2801 Notre Dame Blvd
Chico, CA

Ching Family Memorial Fund
In lieu of flowers, please send a donation:
Paradise Adventist Academy
P.O. Box 2169, Paradise, CA 95967
Write in memo line: "Ching Memorial Fund"

Messages of condolences can be sent to:
Ching family, 2809 Olive Highway, Suite 230, Oroville, CA 95966.

Pullen Family Memorial Service
April 3, 2009, 11 a.m.
Lodi-English Oaks Seventh-day Adventist Church
1260 W. Century Blvd.
Lodi, CA

Pullen Family Memorial Fund
In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to:
Pullen Memorial
P.O. Box 314
Lodi, CA 95241
Gifts will go to assist operational expenses for both Galt and Lodi Seventh-day Adventist Elementary Schools

Messages of condolences can be sent to:
Louis and Noellene Pullen, P.O. Box 695, Galt, CA 95632
Dr. and Mrs. I.M.Feldkamp, 164 West Hospitality Lane, Suite #14, San Bernardino, CA 92408-3316.

Jacobson Family Memorial Service
April 4, 2009, 4 p.m.
Pacific Union College Church
Angwin, CA

Messages of condolences can be sent to:
Jacobson family in care of St. Helena Hospital: 10 Woodland Road, St. Helena, CA 94574

Tesoro Flowers is handling floral orders for the family and memorial service. Those who wish to send flowers to the family's home or to the church, may call 963-3316.

The Jacobson family requests that tribute donations be made to the following organizations:
The Erin Jacobson Vision Legacy Fund
St. Helena Hospital Foundation
10 Woodland Road
St. Helena, CA 94574

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Greater San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
1390 Market Street, Suite 1200
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 625-1100
Online Donations:

The Smile Train
41 Madison Ave., 28th Floor
New York, NY 10010
Online Donations: