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US, Australian filmmakers die in helicopter crash
SYDNEY (AP) - Award-winning American cinematographer Mike deGruy and Australian television writer-producer Andrew Wight have died in a helicopter crash in eastern Australia, their employer National Geographic said.
Police said two people _ an Australian pilot and an American passenger _ died Saturday when their helicopter crashed soon after takeoff from an airstrip near Nowra, 97 miles (156 kilometers) south of Sydney, but did not immediately release the victims’ identities. Australia’s ABC News reported that Wight was piloting the helicopter when it crashed.
National Geographic and “Titanic” director James Cameron confirmed the victims’ identities in a joint statement Sunday that said “the deep-sea community lost two of its finest” with the deaths of the two underwater documentary specialists.
Wight, 52, of Melbourne, was the writer-producer of the 3D movie “Sanctum,” which took in $100 million and was Australian cinema’s biggest box office hit of 2010.
The joint statement said deGruy spent 30 years producing and directing documentary films about the ocean. An accomplished diver and submersible pilot who spent many hours filming deep beneath the sea, he was the director of undersea photography for Cameron’s 2005 “Last Mysteries of the Titanic,” the statement said.
After spending three years at the University of Hawaii in a Marine Biology Ph.D. program, DeGruy moved to the Marshall Islands, according to his website. He spent three years there, working as the manager of the Mid-Pacific Marine Lab, with his knowledge of and fascination with the ocean growing rapidly.
DeGruy spent much of his early film career traveling the world, shooting films for clients including the BBC, PBS and National Geographic, his website says. He later began producing and hosting the films.
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White House pets gone wild!