Reality Show Helicopter Crash: Manslaughter Investigation Opened by French Authorities

Argentina Crash H 2015
AP Images/Invision

The accident killed 10 on the set of reality show 'Dropped' in Argentina.

French authorities will open an official manslaughter investigation into the tragic helicopter accident that killed 10 on the set of reality show Dropped, it was announced Tuesday.

Paris prosecutors opened the investigation under the authority of the Air Transport Gerndarmerie (GTA), with air accident investigators from the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA) involved. The investigators will be sent to the site of the accident in Argentina Tuesday and be accompanied by consultants from helicopter manufacturer Airbus and engine and turbine manufacturer Turbomeca.

Initial footage of the accident shows the two helicopters colliding in midair shortly after takeoff, though the cause of the crash is not known. Weather was clear and calm at the time of the crash, which took place shortly after 5 p.m. local time.

The accident has left France reeling. Three sports legends were among those killed, including Olympic gold medal swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic bronze medal boxer Alexis Vastine and legendary sailor Florence Arthaud, who broke records and gender barriers during her solo sails across the Atlantic in the 1980s and 1990s.

The other victims were employees of Adventure Line Productions (ALP), the company behind Dropped, including cameraman Brice Guilbert, director Laurent Sbasnik, sound engineer Edouard Gilles, journalist Lucie Mei-Dalby and producer Volodia Guinard, and the two Argentinian pilots, Juan Carlos Castillo and Roberto Abate.

The reality program is the local adaptation of a Swedish format which sees sports stars dropped in unknown wilderness with only their wits and skills to guide them back to civilization. It’s sold by Zodiak Rights internationally, and Zodiak Media is parent company to ALP. France and Norway had been the two territories to pick it up since its launch last April at MIPTV.

This is the second tragedy for TF1 and ALP’s reality programming following the death of a contestant on the set of Koh-Lanta and the subsequent suicide of the show’s doctor in 2013. Following the dual Koh-Lanta tragedies, the show took a year off before returning with an “all-star” season.

The company said in a statement this afternoon that production has “obviously” been halted and all production staff and stars are in the process of returning to France.