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One Dead at Michigan Air Show After Jet Truck Explosion Stunt Goes Wrong

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One man is dead after a jet truck exploded during a stunt that went wrong at an air show in Western Michigan on Saturday.

Chris Darnell, 40, was killed while driving a jet-powered semi-truck in a stunt that ended in flames while two planes flew in the air above the truck. The accident occurred at 1:10 p.m. at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival in Battle Creek, Michigan, WXYZ reported.

A bystander in the crowd at the airshow captured footage of the accident:

a tragedy at the field of flight today—at least one dead after a fiery accident. pic.twitter.com/16qI3TQqkE

— sam landstra (@samlandstra) July 2, 2022

It is unclear the exact cause of the accident, which is currently under investigation, according to WXYZ. The show was suspended after the explosion occurred.

Darnell’s father, Sean, in a post through the Shockwave Jet Truck & Flash Fire Jet Trucks Facebook page, blamed the accident on “mechanical failure.”

He later stated, “We are so sad. Just one month ago Chris turned 40. He was so well loved by everyone who knew him. Chris so loved the Air Show business.”

Darnell’s father paid further tribute to his son in another Facebook post on his personal page:

Marilyn and I and Brooke, Reese and Taylor have been overwhelmed with all the condolences sent from all around the country. Literally thousands of you have reached out. We wish we could personally answer every single one. We have lost our youngest son Chris in an accident doing what he loved; performing with SHOCKWAVE. Chris so loved life and his huge Air Show and Drag Racing Family.

Chris leaves behind a wife and two daughters, according to his father.

Darnell had been operating the Jet Truck involved in the crash since 2012, NBC News reported, citing the International Council of Air Shows. “The vehicle is based on a 1985 Peterbilt and powered by three J-34 jet engines,” the outlet noted.

Ryan Travers, a board member for the airshow, told Fox 17 the truck can reach speeds of up to 300 miles per hour during the stunt.

“It’s an absolute tragedy. It’s going to be hard to get over it, and it’s, it’s so, so new, fresh, unreal. I don’t know. I can’t put words on it right now. I just feel for the family,” Travers said. “[W]e saw the absolute worst and we never dreamed we would want to see it.”

You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.

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