Helicopter crash anniversary: Legacy of 3TV photographer lives on with foundation

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Five years ago today, July 27, the Valley was rocked by the deaths of four journalists in a violent mid-air helicopter collision. Two of the men were in 3TV's helicopter -- part of our work "family."

Home With Jimmy

We visited with the real family of beloved 3TV photographer Jim Cox who died that day. His dad, Alan, mom, Barbara,  and sisters Leslie and Jenny met us at the historic Phoenix home that Jim so lovingly renovated to share some thoughts and memories.

Talking about Jimmy still brings tears -- mixed with smiles -- five years after the tragedy. 

Alan Cox says the pain of losing his son will always be deep.

" I have some friends, one or two in particular, who said, 'When are you going to get over this?' I said, 'Never.'" 

And if any house ever reflected its owner, its Jimmy's Central Phoenix home. Every room tells you just the kind of guy he was: passionate, creative, energetic -- a perfectionist.

The Cox family has left it just the way Jim did when he went to work that Friday morning. Though they live in Texas, they stay in Jimmy's house when they visit three or four times a year and say they have mixed feelings about giving it up. It is a legacy to Jim.

The James Alan Cox Foundation

But his most lasting legacy, the gift his family gave in his memory, is the James Alan Cox Foundation for Student Photojournalists.

"The foundation reminds me of Jimmy every day and he's with me every day because of it," Leslie Cox said. "He's with me anyway but then the foundation is, and I know he's smiling."

In four years, the foundation has awarded more than $57,000 to 20 deserving high school and 18 college students.

Jimmy was only 37 when he was killed in the helicopter crash, but his family hopes that through his foundation, his spirit will live forever.

"That kind of energy and passion doesn't go away," Leslie said. "So. he's around saying, 'Good job guys.'"

For more information or to make a contribution, visit the foundation online at JamesAlanCoxFoundation.org.