The family of the veteran Hollywood stunt pilot killed in a plane crash near the set of the Tom Cruise movie Mena is suing producers for wrongful death. Alan Purwin was a passenger in the twin-engine Aerostar on September 11 when it went down in foggy conditions in the rugged Andes near Medellin, Colombia. Another man, Carlos Berl, also died in the crash, while a third survived.
In the suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), Purwin’s widow Kathryn and adult sons Kyle and Michael claim that Berl was piloting the plane but “lacked the necessary qualifications, skills, competence, and general sustainability for the flight.” The suit names as defendants Mena producers Cross Creek Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Quadrant Pictures and Vendian Entertainment and Berl’s estate.
“After the completion of the day’s filming on September 11, 2015, [the defendant companies] permitted Carlos Berl to pilot the Accident Aircraft from the filming location without assuring that he possessed the necessary skills and competence to do so, and contrary to Defendants’ own production policies,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants knew that the Accident Aircraft would be flown over rugged, mountainous terrain and in the Republic of Colombia, and yet failed to ensure that Carlos Berl was competent, qualified, rested and sufficiently informed for the flight.”
Alan Purwin worked as a pilot on more than 100 films and TV shows ranging from Die Hard, Speed and Air Force One to Jurassic World, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and multiple Fast & Furious films. He was 54 when he died.
In Mena, Cruise — who is not named as a defendant in the suit — plays Barry Seal, a hustler and pilot unexpectedly recruited by the CIA in the 1980s in an effort to capture 1980s drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The film is set for a January 6 release. The Associated Press reported that 10 minutes before the fatal crash, Cruise had been in a helicopter taking the same route as the plane that went down.
The Purwins are seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages. They are represented by attorneys Walter J. LAck and Elizabeth L. Crooke of Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack in Santa Monica.