Sunday, February 05, 2012

Horrible Helicopter Crash In Australia Claims Lives Of Andrew Wight And Mike deGruy

I received an email 6 hours ago from one of our awesome readers in Australia (thanks Shaun) that pointed me to a tragic story on Andrew Wight (51, writer / producer, SANCTUM, pictured with Cameron) and Mike deGruy (60, award winning cinematographer, pictured below) both died at the scene of a terrible helicopter crash shortly after taking off from an airport near Berry Saturday afternoon. They were off to scout locations at Jervis Bay for an upcoming documentary. Wight was piloting the flight.

If Wight's name sounds familiar maybe it's because of his $100m movie SANCTUM or because I just posted about him becoming the head of the Cameron | Pace Group's Australian office. He helped develop the 3D technology behind AVATAR. James Cameron has worked with Wight since their documentary on the Titanic in 2000.

Underwater cimenatography specialist deGruy recently tweeted: "Been in Australia 2 weeks, one to go then off to PNG. Love this place - especially Sydney on Australia Day."

PNG = Papua, New Guinea (?) which potentially means James Cameron's documentary which he plans to shoot at the bottom of the pacific, a belief echoed by the Daily Telegraph.

deGruy's website reads: "Mike has dived under the ice at both poles, been to all continents, become a submersible pilot, dived hundreds of times in many types of submersibles, filmed the hydrothermal vents in both the Atlantic and the Pacific and had more meals on the Titanic, now resting at 12,500 feet deep, than did the doomed passengers."

James Cameron has spoken out about the horrible loss: "Mike and Andrew were like family to me. They were my deep-sea brothers and both were true explorers who did extraordinary things and went places no human being had been."

Andrew Grierson (Director of SANCTUM) said the Australian film industry has lost of its most dynamic filmmakers: "He was coming at film-making from a different angle. He was the most entrepreneurial film maker in the country, he's a great loss. In a lot of ways he was more than a producer; he was an expedition leader."

Wight was from Victoria, Australia and deGruy was from Santa Barbara, CA. Andrew Wight is survived by his wife Monica and his one-year-old son Ted. Mike deGruy is survived by his wife Mimi, his son Max and his daughter Frances. An investigation is underway as to the cause of the accident. There are images of the crash scene, but I feel it is out of place to post them.

Our deepest condolences to the families of these two fine filmmakers.

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