According to the AP, the two fatalities were American film pilot Alan Purwin and Carlos Berl of Colombia. A third person aboard, pilot Jimmy Lee Garland of Georgia, was rushed to intensive care at a hospital in Medellin. Cruise, a trained pilot, was reportedly not aboard the aircraft.
An official with Colombia’s civilian aviation authority told the AP the plane took off late Friday afternoon from the town of Santa Fe de Antioquia on its way to Medellin, during which time it endured bad weather.
“An aircraft carrying crew members crashed while returning to Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellin following production wrap on the film Mena resulting in two fatalities,” a spokesperson for the film’s distributor, Universal Pictures, said in a statement. “Further details are not available at this time. On behalf of the production, our hearts and prayers go out to the crew members and their families at this difficult time.”
Mena, starring Cruise and directed by Edge of Tomorrow’s Doug Liman, centers on a pilot working for infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. Purwin posted photos of himself with Cruise and the Military Forces of Colombia on Instagram weeks prior to the incident. “Pushing the envelope in every way,” he wrote. “Working on a super interesting, true story film with Tom Cruise.”
#TomCruise conducting international relations like a champion with a team of fantastic professionals with the #MilitaryForcesofColombia who did an amazing job of supporting our #aerialteam and #keepingussafe . Thanks to all in #araraquara !! @apurwin @helinetaviation @shotovercamera @videofort @repinteractive @team5aerialsystems
Purwin was the president of Helinet Technologies, a company that provides aerial surveillance systems and services to law enforcement, government and military agencies. According the company’s website, he was “regarded as one of the top film pilots of his generation.”
Last year, he was featured as part of Variety‘s Artisans series. Watch the video below.
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