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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A small plane assigned to the crew of a movie starring Tom Cruise crashed in Colombia on Friday, killing two people, including a Los Angeles-based film pilot, and seriously injuring a third, the country’s civilian aviation authority said.
An official with the aviation agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, said Cruise was not on the aircraft.
The official said an American, Alan Purwin, was killed along with the Colombian Carlos Berl. A third person aboard, American pilot Jimmy Lee Garland, was rushed to a hospital in Medellin.
The official said the twin-engine Aerostar ran into bad weather late Friday afternoon after taking off from the colonial town of Santa Fe de Antioquia for a short flight to Medellin.
Purwin was founder and president of the Los Angeles-based Helinet Technologies, a company providing aerial surveillance technology to law enforcement and government agencies. On the company’s website, he’s described as “one of the top film pilots of his generation” with a list of credits from television and major Hollywood movies such as Transformers, Pearl Harbor, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Helinet’s Vice President Jack Snyder declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
Cruise’s spokeswoman, Amanda Lundberg, had no comment.
Cruise, a trained pilot, arrived last month in Colombia to film Mena, a movie about an American pilot who worked for the late cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. The film is financed by Cross Creek Pictures and distributed by Universal.
“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 Universal spokesperson confirmed 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.”
Cruise had recently said that he’d be filming the 1980’s action-packed drug thriller in Colombia. In July, at the Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation premiere in Vienna, the actor noted: “I’m going to fly to Colombia when we finish the press on this to finish that.”
The actor reteamed with director Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) for the drug thriller. In May, photography began on the film, with production starting stateside in Georgia.
Cruise is playing Barry Seal, a fired TWA pilot who became a major drug smuggler for the Medellin Cartel. He was later recruited by the DEA and CIA to provide intelligence, with his work tying to the Iran Contra scandal. He was assassinated by Colombians in 1986.
The film’s cast also includes Jesse Plemons, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright and Caleb Landry Jones.
10:00 pm, Sept. 11 Updated with additional information from The Associated Press and a Universal spokesperson.
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