CHURCHVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — Family, friends, first responders, and community members gathered Monday in Churchville to pay their respects to Mercy Flight pilot James Sauer.

The funeral service took place at 1 p.m. at Open Door Baptist Church on Chili Scottsville Road and followed a procession from the Thomas E. Burger Funeral Home to the church.

Officials said they expected approximately 1,000 community members to attend Monday for the procession and service.

Sauer, of Churchville, passed away during a fatal training exercise, when the Mercy Flight helicopter he and Bell pilot Stewart Dietrick of Prosper, Texas, were in, crashed in Genesee County Tuesday.

The Churchville man was a retired New York State Police pilot who also served as a Rochester police officer from 1993 to 2001. Sauer spoke with News 8 in 2020, when he celebrated the end of his 40-year military flight career.

The helicopter, the bell 429, crashed last week after taking off from the Genesee County Airport in Batavia — about three miles from the crash site. According to New York State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski, the helicopter crashed into power lines as it went down, and weather is not believed to be a factor in the crash.

Three days after the incident, officials from the Nation Transportation Safety Board said the next steps of the investigation will focus on determining what caused the crash. Officials believe the conclusion of this investigation will not be announced for months.

Check back with News 8 WROC for the live-streamed service and more coverage later today.