The mid-air collision killed three French athletes, the two pilots and five members of the production crew working with Paris-based Adventure Line Productions, the company producing the series for broadcaster TF1.
The survival/adventure format, which originated from Zodiak-owned Mastiff Sweden, follows two teams of celebrities as they travel to remote locations where they must rely on their own wits to make their way back to civilization. The format has also sold into Norway.
Adventure Line Productions’ CEO Franck Firmin-Guion confirmed the show’s cancellation during an interview on French television.
In an interview with TF1 on Tuesday, Firmin-Guion said the helicopters took off at 5 p.m. local time on Monday for a 20-minute trip to a shooting location. The three athletes – Olympic medal-winning swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic medalist boxer Alexis Vastine, and sailor Florence Arthaud – and a cameraman rode in one, and a crew filming the first helicopter rode in the other.
“A few moments after takeoff, one of the two helicopters veered off course and crashed into the other helicopter,” he said. “This is a terrible air disaster.”
He added the helicopters were government-owned and designed to fly in mountainous environments. Pilots Roberto Abate and Carlos Castillo had 30 years of experience and worked as flight instructors and military pilots, he said. A logistics coordinator who had shot in the same location for the Swedish version of the format was also on hand.
The five crew members killed have been identified as Laurent Sbasnik, Lucie Mei-Dalby, Volodia Guinard, Brice Guilbert and Eduoard Gilles.
“As always in the event of an air crash and when French nationals die abroad, a preliminary enquiry has been opened for which the air transportation police is in charge and with whom the production is fully cooperating,” Zodiak Media Group said in a statement on Tuesday.
TF1 has not commented on Dropped‘s cancellation but issued a statement offering condolences to the victims on Monday. “It is with deep regret that we learned of the accident that took place during filming of the program Dropped,” the network said. “Nonce Paolini [CEO of TF1 Group] and all the teams at TF1 express their deepest sympathy for the pain suffered by the victims’ families and loved ones during this difficult time.”
The Dropped crash is the worst accident to date to occur during a reality TV production.
Two years ago, a contestant died from a heart attack on the set of Koh-Lanta, TF1′s version of Survivor and also produced by Adventure Line Productions. The show’s doctor subsequently committed suicide. The series returned last year.
In 2011, a helicopter used in the filming of Campus PD crashed near the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. A cameraman died following complications from injuries sustained in the crash.
In 2013, three people died in a helicopter crash at a filming location in Los Angeles while shooting a military-themed series for Discovery Channel. That same year, Canadian director and DOP John Driftmier was killed when a small plane crashed in Kenya during a shoot for Discovery Canada’s Dangerous Flights. The plane’s pilot was also killed.
(With files from Barry Walsh)