PARIS — Ten people died in a crash between two helicopters that took place during the filming of a French reality show, “Dropped,” in Argentina on March 9.
Among the 10 people who died were high-profile French athletes: champion sailor Florence Arthaud, boxer Alexis Vastine and Olympic Gold medalist swimmer Camille Muffat. The other victims were the show’s director Laurent Sbasnik, French journalist Lucie Mei-Dalby, producer Volodia Guinard, the production’s doctor Edouard Gilles and cameraman Brice Guilbert, as well as the two Argentinean pilots.
Update: In the wake of the tragic accident, Adventure Line Productions, the Zodiak-owned company behind “Dropped,” has decided to cancel the show. The causes and circumstances of the crash are being probed by French authorities who launched an investigation for manslaughter on Wednesday. French agents traveled today to Argentina, along with engineering consultants for Airbus and Turbomeca to determine what caused the collision of the two helicopters, which were top-notch Squirrel B3 models dating from 2010, according to reports.
While the investigation is underway, a flurry of French reports have cited aeronautic experts claiming the tragic accident was certainly prompted by a piloting fault. However Franck Firmin-Guion, the boss of Adventure Line Productions (ALP), said the pilots were highly experienced and trained. He also pointed out the production house had tapped a coordinator to handle the logistics and security matters related to flights’ rotation.
The three sports stars had boarded a plane with a cameraman and were supposed to be filmed from a second plane transporting the rest of the crew. But one of the helicopters mysteriously deviated and crashed into the other aircraft, which was flying unusually low, per reports. The crash occurred at around 5 p.m. local time.
Adventure Line Productions (ALP), stated “all of ALP staff is heartbroken and feeling the pain of victims’ families and close ones with which they are in touch.”
Adapted from a Swedish format for French commercial net TF1, “Dropped” was an adventure reality show following eight sports stars who were blindfolded and dropped in rough environments with nothing but water and a GPS. The shooting of the show started in February in Ushuaia and Patagonia.
The crash, which left no survivors, occurred in the mountains of La Rioja province in Argentina.
“We are learning with a profound sadness about the accident that happened during the filming of ‘Dropped.’ Nonce Paolini and his teams at TF1 are united in these terrible moments with the victims’ families and close ones,” said TF1 in its statement.
French president Francois Holland tweeted, “Great sadness after the death of eight of our fellow citizens. Florence Arthaud, Camille Muffat et Alexis Vastine made France shine so bright.”
France’s prime minister Manuel Walls tweeted that “All of France was mourning.”
Last year, TF1 had to shut down the production of “Koh-Lanta,” the French version of Survivor — also produced by ALP — following the death of a contestant, Gerald Babin, during the filming in Cambodia, and the subsequent suicide of the show’s doctor, Thierry Costa.