PHOENIX -- As federal investigators try to piece together what caused a helicopter to crash into the Verde River over the weekend, friends of the four victims are coping with the tragedy.
Valley restaurant CEO Ray Perry, 70, was the pilot. With him were Karen Stinn, 68, and Glendale couple Mike Dunaway, 63, and Linda Dunaway, 64.
Perry was an avid pilot who founded the Arriba Mexican Grill restaurant chain and also ran a number of other franchise restaurants across the state and country.
"He was always flying around up there; he was an excellent pilot," said Stephen Schwanz of Franchise Capital Advisors, Perry's financial adviser of 25 years.
"He was a great guy, always had a smile, outgoing," Schwanz said.
The Dunaways retired to Glendale from Durango, Colorado in 2009, according to longtime friends.
Mike Dunaway spent more than 25 years as a firefighter in Durango, and was the fire chief there for about 20 years, according to Dan Noonan, the current chief. Linda was actively involved with the Durango Humane Society.
"Mike and Linda were very selfless people," Noonan said. "It wasn't one close dear friend of the Durango fire service and community, but it was both husband and wife, so it was quite a shock to our community."
Stinn, of Cave Creek, was a longtime Valley real estate agent.
Authorities say the four victims had flown from Scottsdale to Sedona early Saturday for breakfast. They were on their way back to Scottsdale when the chopper went down.
Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration were on scene investigating on Sunday and Monday.