By Caitlin Keating
March 14, 2018 01:09 PM

The ex-girlfriend of Trevor Cadigan, the 26-year-old journalist who was one of the five passengers killed in the helicopter crash in New York City’s East River on Sunday, is reeling after hearing the tragic news that he didn’t survive.

“He was always, very happy, joyous and ambitious,” says Jordan McDaniel, 22, of St. Louis, Missouri. “That’s why he moved to New York City. He was doing great things.”

McDaniel, who remained good friends with Cadigan after they split last year, says that he moved from Dallas to N.Y.C. six months ago for a video journalism internship at Business Insider and was destined for success.

“It’s heartbreaking to never know what bigger things he was going to do in life,” she says, “but I think what he’s already done speaks volumes about him and shows the type of person he was.”

Jordan McDaniel

Cadigan and McDaniel first met in April 2017 when he was in St. Louis for his sister’s wedding.

“We got very close into the summer and the fall,” she says. “Some of my happiest memories are with him.”

After the duo met, McDaniel visited Cardigan in Dallas and he came back to St. Louis to see her. Cadigan also planned a trip for them to South Padre Island in Texas.

Jordan McDaniel and Trevor Cadigan
Jordan McDaniel

“It was the worst thing ever because it turned out to kind of be a food desert. We were there for 24 hours and were kind of miserable, so he booked a flight to Miami and we went there instead for a couple of days,” recalls McDaniel, who says she spent hours on the phone and FaceTiming with Cadigan.

“He hated when people were unhappy,” she recalls. And “really cared” about those who were close to him.

In the fall of 2017, the two went to New York City, which happened to be McDaniel’s first visit to the city. It was on this trip that she thinks he made the decision to move there.

It was also around that time that they decided to break up so he could focus on his career, but looking back, she says, “I think that was just us being scared of something serious.”

Although they were no longer a couple, they still remained friends and were texting the day before the tragic accident.

She also responded to Cadigan’s video on his Instagram story of him on the helicopter as it took off from New Jersey.

Trevor Cadigan/Instagram

“I sent him shocked-looking emojis,” she says, “and he didn’t respond.”

McDaniel says the fact that Cadigan decided to embark on the helicopter excursion didn’t surprise her “because he was very adventurous,” she adds. “He had also just started his website and was making cool videos, so it made sense.”

After the crash, Cadigan’s family filed a lawsuit against the helicopter company, the pilot and others.

His parents hope to “prevent what happened to their son from ever happening to anyone else” by stopping open-door chopper flights for taking aerial photos, said their lawyer, Gary C. Robb.

Later in the evening on Sunday, still unaware of the deadly crash, McDaniel says she felt compelled to text Cadigan photos of the two of them together.

“I couldn’t sleep very well and I was thinking of him so I texted him a bunch of pictures of us, which was kind of out of character because we’re not dating,” she says. “I was just thinking of all the time we spent together.”

The next morning she heard what happened and has since been “devastated.”

“I’ve never able to find one negative thing about him,” she says. “He’s one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever known. I’m still in so much shock.”