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US, Australian filmmakers die in helicopter crash

February 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
American cinematographer Mike deGruy and Australian TV writer-producer Andrew Wight have died in a helicopter crash in Australia.

Police say the two men, who worked for National Geographic, died when their helicopter crashed soon after takeoff from an airstrip near Nowra, 97 miles north of Sydney. Police did not immediately release the victims' names, but 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 that said "the deep-sea community lost two of its finest" with the deaths of the two underwater documentary specialists.

The president of Australia's South Coast Regional Flying Club said the two men had set off to film a documentary when they crashed.

DeGruy, 60, of Santa Barbara, California, won multiple Emmy and British Academy of Film and Television Arts, or BAFTA, awards for cinematography.

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.

Investigators are trying to figure out what led to the crash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.