Two crew members of Tom Cruise die in crash

Published September 13 2015
Updated September 13 2015

BOGOTA, Colombia — Actor Tom Cruise flew in a helicopter across the Colombian Andes just 10 minutes before a small plane on the same dangerous flight path crashed into a jungle mountain, killing two crew members from his forthcoming movie, civil aviation authorities said.

An official with the aviation agency said the cause of the crash Friday was still under investigation.

Those killed were veteran Hollywood pilot Alan Purwin and Venezuelan Carlos Berl. Another American, Jimmy Lee Garland, survived. All were experienced pilots although it's not clear which of the three was in command of the plane at the time of the crash, the official said.

They crashed while returning to the city of Medellin on the twin-engine Piper-Aerostar 600 after a day of filming with Cruise for the movie Mena, which stars the actor as American pilot Barry Seal, a drug runner recruited in the 1980s by the CIA to try to capture the late cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Cruise, a pilot, arrived in Medellin last month flying the same 1960s-era plane, which was similar to the one Seal would have flown for Escobar's cartel, the official said. Photos of the actor sitting in the cockpit of the U.S.-registered plane have circulated for days on social media.

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