LESTER PRAIRIE, Minn. — Stand in Deb Schott's Lester Prairie yard, and it's obvious that Schott was a woman of many interests.
"My mom is very much into gardening and she has a very green thumb," Kristie Collins said.
Collins said her mother was meticulous about the way she kept her yard. She said Schott was the kind of woman to pour her heart into projects. Whether it was the front yard, or the self-reupholstered bright, red, Mustang, Schott always gave it her all.
Collins said her mother always had a lot to be proud of as well. She was fond of her daughter and son, and subsequently her granddaughter and grandson. Collins said she had always felt the same way too - admiration for her mother.
"She's been my inspiration, my hero from when I grew up," Collins said. "She always takes other people first, she's always the one to help and never wants anything in return."
Collins said that's exactly what Schott was doing Friday morning when her med-flight helicopter crashed in Brainerd. The news of her death didn't take long to reach Collins, who is currently living in San Antonio.
"I heard my dog bark, who never barks so I thought I'd better check the camera," Collins said. "I saw uniformed personnel outside. I immediately thought it was my husband because my husband is posted in Afghanistan. When they told me it was my mom, I couldn't believe it. I would have never guessed."
Collins said she always knew there was a risk of crashes, but never thought it would happen to her mother. After all, Schott had been in the medical field for decades.
"She is very strong, she's a fighting woman for sure," Collins said.
Collins said she knows Schott's heart was filled with passion, even during her last moments early Friday morning.
"She died, doing what she loved," Collins said. "Helping people."
Authorities have identified the deceased pilot of the helicopter as Tim McDonald. A paramedic who was also on the flight survived the crash but he is currently listed at North Memorial Hospital in critical condition.