Three men working on the shoot of a reality show died early Sunday morning when the helicopter they were filming from crashed in California’s Sierra Pelona Mountains.
The Bell 206B Jet Ranger helicopter crashed around 3:40 a.m. at the Polsa Rosa Movie ranch in Acton, California, a property with various landscapes and facilities used as a location for movies, television shows, and commercials. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration sent investigators to the scene Monday, but there is no word yet on the possible causes of the crash. It typically takes up to two weeks for the NTSB to release its preliminary report after a crash.
The men in the helicopter were identified as David Gibbs, 59, of Valencia, California; Michael Donatelli, 45, of Pennsylvania; and Darren Rydstrom, 46, of Whittier, California. There were no other people in the helicopter when it crashed. Mr. Gibbs was piloting, but it wasn’t clear why the men were flying in the middle of the night.
The Los Angeles Film Commission told CBS 2 Los Angeles a production company called Bongo Productions held a permit to shoot in the area. There was no word on what reality show the men were filming before the crash, but a permit filed with FilmL.A. indicated it had something to do with the military, according to the Pasadena Star-News.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Martin Smith told the Pasadena Star-News that the three men were thrown from the helicopter when it crashed into an open field. The helicopter did not catch fire after the crash, authorities said. Camera equipment was found in the wreckage and set up in various locations on the ground.