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Originally published Monday, February 15, 2010 at 2:20 PM

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Helicopter crash in Phoenix killed company owner

An Arizona state senator says a fiery helicopter crash on Sunday killed the owner and founder of a national firm that is the state's second-largest privately held company, Services Group of America.

Associated Press Writer

PHOENIX —

An Arizona state senator says a fiery helicopter crash on Sunday killed the owner and founder of a national firm that is the state's second-largest privately held company, Services Group of America.

Sen. Jonathan Paton eulogized Thomas J. Stewart on the Senate floor on Monday, saying Stewart died in the crash along with his wife and one of his children.

Officials with the Scottsdale-based food service distributing and real estate firm planned an announcement later Monday but haven't confirmed Stewart's death.

The Eurocopter EC135 went down in a rural area just north of Phoenix. A Maricopa County sheriff's spokeswoman says mechanical failure is suspected because witnesses saw parts flying off the stricken aircraft right before it crashed.

Stewart moved his company to Arizona from Seattle in 2006.

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