A man driving a jet-propelled truck at 300 mph died Saturday when it crashed in a fiery explosion during the “pyrotechnic portion’ at an air show in Michigan.
Chris Darnell, 40, was racing two airplanes around 1:10 p.m. on an airport runway in the city of Battle Creek, about 50 miles southwest of Lansing, at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival when the Shockwave Jet Truck he was driving crashed.
“During Darnell’s performance in the air show, an accident happened that resulted in his death,” the Battle Creek Police Department said in a statement.
Barb Haluszka, the executive director of the festival, said in a statement that the remaining performances during the air show were canceled Saturday but resumed Sunday in Darnell’s memory.
“We lost Chris yesterday when an unfortunate incident took place. Words cannot describe the heartbreak we are experiencing,” Haluszka said.
“The Darnell’s have been a part of our event numerous times over the years and our hearts have been with them since the incident occurred.”
Darnelll’s father Neal Darnell said in a statement that the accident happened “as a result of a mechanical failure on the Jet Truck.”
“My youngest son passed away from his injuries at approximately 1:01 p.m. No one else was involved,” Neal Darnell said, adding that his son was “so well-loved by everyone who knew him.”
The Shockwave Jet Truck can be seen erupting in flames as it speeds down the runway before spinning and ultimately rolling in videos shared to social media by bystanders.
The Air Force Thunderbirds remembered Darnell as a “close friend and fellow demo performer” in a statement to Facebook.
“Chris Darnell, the driver of the Shockwave Jet Truck, has been performing alongside us for many years and has been a staple of the Air Show community,” the Air Force Thunderbirds said.
“His love for motorsports and passion for his craft always inspired us and those around him.”