GoFundMe started for family of Riverhead native who died in Iraq crash

As the family of Riverhead native Dashan Briggs makes his funeral arrangements, community members are looking for ways to help his widow and their young children. 

Staff Sgt. Briggs, who lived in Port Jefferson Station, died in a helicopter crash in Iraq on Thursday. He was 30.

Andre Galarza of East Meadow, a close friend, started a GoFundMe page Sunday. As of Monday night, over $15,000 had been raised toward the goal of $20,000.

The money will go to his wife, Rebecca, and their children Ava, 1, and Jayden, 2.

Staff Sgt. Briggs, a 2007 Riverhead High School graduate, was one of seven killed when the HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter they were flying crashed near the city of Al-Qa’im in western Iraq.

He was one of four members of the New York Air National Guard assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach that were aboard the helicopter. The other airmen killed were officially identified Saturday as Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe of Center Moriches, Capt. Christopher Zanetis of Long Island City and Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso of Commack.

The remains of the four airmen arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware early Monday morning.

An HH-60G special missions aviation flight engineer, Staff Sgt. Briggs joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2010 and was a member of the wing’s 101st Rescue Squadron, which specializes in personnel recovery of pilots, military personnel and civilians. He previously served in Afghanistan as a munitions system specialist with the 106th Maintenance Group, and completed missions in Texas and the Caribbean following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last year.

“You were a ride or die friend, great husband and great father,” Mr. Galarza wrote on the fund-raising page. “Thank you for serving our county and keeping us safe Sgt. Briggs. Please watch over us during this difficult time.”

Funeral arrangements were not yet available.

Photo caption: A photo of Dashan Briggs that was used on a GoFundMe page to raise money for his widow and children. (Credit: GoFundMe)