UPDATE Saturday, 3:30PM: The two people who died in the plane crash near the Colombia location of the Tom Cruise picture Mena have been identified. Hollywood stunt pilot Alan D. Purwin and Carlos Berl, a Venezuelan who was also described as a pilot, were killed when their plane went down in foggy conditions in the Andes near Medellin, Colombia.
They had just wrapped work on Mena, Universal Pictures said in a statement. 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. A third person aboard the plane who was also said to be a pilot, Jimmy Lee Garland, survived. The crash is under investigation. It was not known who was at the controls when the plane went down.
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As a stunt pilot, Purwin provided dramatic footage for TV and for movies such as Transformers, Pearl Harbor and Pirates of the Caribbean, according to statement by from his company, Shotover, where he was chairman. “Alan was both a pioneer in the film industry and committed philanthropist,” said Shotover CEO Steve Gatena.
“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,” Gatena said in a statement.
Purwin also appeared in cameo roles as a pilot in many productions, including Jurassic World, Zero Dark Thirty and Indecent Proposal.
Friday, 6:49PM: Two crew members were killed today in a plane crash near the set of the Tom Cruise drug war drama Mena near Medellin, Colombia, A third passenger in the twin-engine Aerostar reportedly survived, but none of the victims has been identified. The plane was flying to Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellin when the crash occurred.
A source with knowledge of the production confirmed to Deadline that Cruise was not on the plane, having wrapped a scene just prior to the tragedy. Mena director Doug Liman was not aboard either but is said to be very shaken up over the deaths.
“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 Mena distributor Universal 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 follows the life of Barry Seal, a drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel who later turned informant for the DEA in operations targeting the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. The film went into production on May 25 in Georgia, with Cruise heading to Colombia in late August.
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