Local Pita Pit Owner Overcomes Tragedy

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PANAMA CITY BEACH - A local man who lost his entire family in a fatal plane crash 2 years ago, is moving forward with his life.

If you've visited the new Pita Pit at Pier Park, you've probably seen 25 year old Eric Woliver's smiling face, but you may not know about the tragedy that smile hides.

In November 2011, 25 year old Eric Woliver's life came to a screeching halt.

"In one day my whole world turned upside down," said Eric Woliver, Pita Pit Owner.

Woliver's parents, Kim and Trish, and his older brother Alex were flying home from Knoxville to Panama City, when their Cessna crashed in West Georgia.

"I tried calling my brother and the phone would ring," Woliver said. "When he started not answering it, I knew something happened."

Woliver's parents were killed in the crash; his brother died in the burn unit of an Atlanta hospital.

He said, "Everything was up in the air. He was my best friend, my brother, my only brother."

After their funerals, Woliver took time off to travel.

"I wanted to do something. I wanted to make them proud," said Woliver.

That "something" is the new Pita Pit restaurant at Pier Park.

Not only is he working to make his family proud, he's also quietly setting an example for others, hoping to overcome their own tragedies.

He said, "You have to make the best out of the worst situations. Even if they are as extreme as losing a family. It could always be worse, even in my situation it would always be worse. I'm really on track to being able to tell my story. It worked out in the end."

Woliver plans to open two more Pita Pits in the next two years.