The plane crash that killed Dr. Heath Smith and two children occurred days before his birthday on Tuesday, a colleague tells PEOPLE
Texas surgeon Heath Smith, who died in a plane crash Sunday along with two children, is being remembered as a loving and dedicated father.
“He was a brilliant man,” Will Brewer, superintendent of the Paradise Independent School District tells PEOPLE, adding that tragically, the crash occurred just days before the doctor's birthday on Tuesday.
In addition to his duties as a surgeon, Smith served as vice president of the Texas school board.
“He really embodied what a trustee should be. He felt the community trusted him with the responsibility of serving the board," says Brewer. "He firmly believed in being a good steward of the legacy of Paradise ISD."
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Smith and the two children were aboard a twin-engine Cessna 310 when it crashed near Poolville around 1:15 p.m., local time on Sunday, according to authorities.
Smith was piloting the airport at the time, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, reported the Wise County Messenger.
Although the Texas Department of Public Safety declined to say whether the kids were Smith's children, they did tell the outlet that all of the passengers had "the same last name.”
PEOPLE contacted the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Parker County Sheriff's Office Tuesday for additional confirmation.
Smith was born and raised in Paradise, but went to Virginia Tech/Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Virginia, for his residency, according to his biography at My Bariatric Solutions, where he was employed.
Brewer tells PEOPLE that Smith decided to come back to his hometown "because he wanted to raise his kids here."
“One thing you need to know about Heath is he was very passionate about his love for this district. He loved this community," Brewer adds.
In addition to Smith's medical work, he was remembered as being a devoted dad and husband. "He was a proud father," says Brewer. "He loved his boys tremendously."
Brewer also highlighted Smith's work on the school board as someone who asked good questions based on his research. “He's a surgeon and he's a dad, and yet he would find time to do research issues we were facing,” adds the superintendent. "He impacted a lot of lives.”
On Monday, Paradise ISD released a statement about the "unimaginable tragedy" on social media.
“On Sunday, the Dr. Heath Smith family suffered an unimaginable tragedy,” school officials wrote. “As a beloved part of our community, our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers are with this family.
“During this time, as the community processes the devastating news and tries to cope with the grief,” the statement continued. “We will offer counseling and support services to all of our students and staff. Extra counselors and trained staff at PISD will provide support to any student or staff members in need throughout the upcoming days.”
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.