Two well-known filmmakers were killed on Saturday in a helicopter crash in Eastern Australia. The men, 60-year-old American cinematographer Mike deGruy and 52-year-old Australian writer-producer Andrew Wight, died when the Robinson R44 helicopter Wight was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff from Jaspers Brush, an airfield approximately 100 miles south of Sydney.
According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), the helicopter was seen hovering less than 20 to 30 feet above the ground when control was lost and the aircraft crashed.
At the time of the crash Wight and deGruy were working on a documentary with National Geographic and renowned director James Cameron, whose portfolio includes Titanic, Rambo and Avatar, among other blockbusters.
In response to the accident, National Geographic issued a statement in which Cameron recalled Wight as “kind and loyal, full of life and a sense of fun, and above all, a careful planner who stressed safety to everyone on his team every single day.”
“It is cruelly ironic that he died flying a helicopter, which was second nature to him, like driving a car would be to most people,” Cameron went on to say.
An Emmy nominee and general manager of the Australian office of Cameron Pace Group, Wight produced more than 45 films in the past two decades. A commercial helicopter and airplane pilot, Wight was also a well-known cave diving and scuba instructor.
The man behind such films as Last Mysteries of the Titanic and Blue Planet, deGruy was an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker with a focus on underwater photography.
ATSB investigators say they will be collecting maintenance and pilot records after they finish talking to witnesses and reviewing the wreckage.