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One dead at Michigan Air Show in flaming jet truck crash during stunt

A man died after a jet truck exploded in a stunt gone wrong at an air show in western Michigan on Saturday.

Chris Darnell, 40, was killed while driving a jet-powered tractor-trailer in a stunt that ended in flames as two planes flew through the air above the truck. The crash happened at 1:10 p.m. at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival in Battle Creek, Michigan, WXYZ reported.

A spectator in the crowd at the airshow captured footage of the crash:

The exact cause of the accident is unknown, which is currently under investigation, according to WXYZ. The show was suspended after the explosion.

Darnell’s father, Sean, in a post on the Shockwave Jet Truck & Flash Fire Jet Trucks Facebook page, blamed the crash on “mechanical failure”.

He later said, “We are so sad. Just a month ago, Chris turned 40. He was so loved by everyone who knew him. Chris loved the airshow business so much. »

Darnell’s father paid another tribute to his son in another Facebook post on his personal page:

Marilyn and I and Brooke, Reese and Taylor were overwhelmed with all the condolences sent in from across the country. Thousands of you have literally reached out. We would like to be able to answer each of them personally. We lost our youngest son Chris in an accident while doing what he loved; play with SHOCKWAVE. Chris loved life and his huge Air Show and Drag Racing Family so much.

Chris leaves behind a wife and two daughters, according to his father.

Darnell had been driving the Jet Truck involved in the crash since 2012, NBC News reported, citing the International Council of Air Shows. “The vehicle is based on a 1985 Peterbilt and powered by three J-34 jet engines,” the outlet noted.

Airshow board member Ryan Travers told Fox 17 the truck could reach speeds of up to 300 miles per hour during the stunt.

“It is an absolute tragedy. It’s going to be hard to get over it, and it’s, it’s so, so new, fresh, unreal. I do not know. I can’t put words to it at the moment. I just feel for the family,” Travers said. “[W]We’ve seen the worst and never imagined we’d want to see it.

You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.

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