Tom Cruise Movie Tragedy: 2 Crew Members Killed in Plane Crash in Colombia

13 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Tom Cruise flew same path across Andes just before crash.

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Actor Tom Cruise flew in a helicopter across the Colombian Andes just 10 minutes before a small plane on the same flight path crashed into a jungled mountain, killing three crew members from his upcoming movie, civil aviation authorities said. A weather-related plane crash in Medellin, Colombia has killed two crew members and injured a Georgia pilot who were working on the Tom Cruise movie “Mena,” which filmed partly in metro Atlanta, the Associated Press reports. An official with the aviation agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said the cause of the crash Friday that killed two people and seriously injured a third is still under investigation. The country’s civilian aviation authority said the twin-engine Aerostar crashed Friday after taking off from a small colonial town near Medellin, killing two people, including a Los Angeles-based film pilot, and seriously injuring a third. (San Pedro de los Milagros Fire Department via AP) “The two people killed were identified as American film pilot Alan David Purwin and Colombian Carlos Berl,” the AP reports. “Another American pilot, Jimmy Lee Garland, has been severely injured and hospitalized in Medellin.” Members of a community page are rallying prayers and support for Garland, a partner with S&S Aviation in Cherokee County. A member reported that he’s in surgery with “a broken arm, both legs broken, punctured lung, and spinal injuries.” Purwin was chairman of Helinet, a Van Nuys, Calif. firm that provides aviation services to motion picture, news, charter, medical and government clients.

They crashed while returning to the city of Medellin on the twin-engine Piper-Aerostar 600 after a day of filming with Cruise for the film “Mena,” which stars the actor as American pilot Barry Seal, a drug runner recruited in the 1980s by the CIA to try to capture the late cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Helinet CEO Steve Gatena posted a moving tribute to his friend and colleague: At Helinet, Alan was known for his passion, generosity, and ability to make us all feel as though we were a part of something much bigger than ourselves.

Cruise, a pilot, arrived in Medellin last month flying the same 1960s-era plane, which was similar to the one Seal would have flown for Escobar’s cartel, the official said. His legacy includes many feats such as, conducting the first vital organ transplant mission in Los Angeles, supporting the first response rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and being the only American Hollywood Movie Pilot to fly throughout the People’s Republic of China.

A plane overhead located the downed aircraft just below a high ridge thanks to a distress signal, allowing rescuers to arrive to the crash site quickly and rush Garland to a hospital in Medellin, where he was in critical but stable condition. Although there were no reports of bad weather in Santa Fe de Antioquia when the plane took off, the official described the normally 10-minute flight as a “bungee jump” or “roller coaster” requiring a skilled pilot to quickly take the plane from near sea level to a height of 3,000 meters, or 9,800 feet, to clear the Andes before descending sharply for the approach into the steep valley surrounding Medellin. There are no words that can express our heartache for we have lost one of the world’s greatest helicopter pilots and one of aviation’s greatest leaders.”

Cruise’s spokeswoman, Amanda Lundberg, had no comment on Friday’s accident and the film’s local and US-based producers did not reply to emails and phone calls seeking comment.

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