The driver of the jet-powered pickup died when the vehicle crashed in a fiery crash in Michigan on Saturday, police said.
Battle Creek Police identified the victim as Chris Darnell, 40, who was behind the wheel of the Shockwave Jet Truck when it sped past or encountered an explosion and appeared to be on fire, creating a trail of smoke and debris. recorded on video.
It’s unclear whether the first flare, which produced a plume of black smoke, was part of a performance scheduled at the annual Battle Creek Field Balloon Festival. The State government website promote the event and note that the event has “pyro and the WALL OF FIRE.”
Two support planes were performing aerial maneuvers and flying low above the truck as it plunged down the runway at Battle Creek Operations Airport when the crash occurred.
In a post on Jet Cars Facebook page, Darnell’s father, Neal Darnell, blamed a mechanical failure for the crash.
“We are saddened,” Darnell said in the post. “Just a month ago Chris turned 40. He was loved by everyone who knew him. Chris loves the Airshow business. He is ‘Living the dream’ as he says. “
The truck was created by the jet truck pioneer Les Shockley and has been operated by Darnell’s since 2012, according to the International Airshow Council, according to the International Airshow Council. . According to the council, the vehicle is based on the 1985 Peterbilt and is powered by three J-34 turbofan engines.
Semitruck is said to be able to exceed 300 mph. Chris Darnell claims to have held the jet truck speed record, 375 mph, achieved in his team’s Flash Fire jet-modified pickup in 2005 in Florida.
No other injuries were reported after the collision, which was reported shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday.
Police said organizers had canceled the rest of the day’s airshow but other festivities would continue as scheduled through Monday’s end of the festival.
The event also includes musical performances and fireworks.
Battle Creek Police, fire and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash and the cause, police said.
ADJUST: (July 4, 2022, 12:20 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the event. It’s the Airshow Airport and Balloon Festival, not the Field of Lights.
Michelle Acevedo contribute.