Entertainment & Arts

James Cameron film company sued over helicopter death

James Cameron
Image caption James Cameron also worked with Mr deGruy on a documentary about the Titanic

The family of one of two filmmakers killed in a 2012 helicopter crash in Australia has taken legal action against James Cameron's production company, Lightstorm Entertainment.

Award-winning cameraman Mike deGruy was working on the Titanic director's documentary DeepSea Challenge.

He and writer and producer Andrew Wight both died when the helicopter crashed and caught fire shortly after take-off.

Mr deGruy's family are seeking unspecified damages from Lightstorm.

Legal papers were filed at Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday.

The legal papers also name Andrew Wight's estate, Robinson Helicopter Company, Cameron Pace Group and Earthship Productions as defendants, although Cameron himself is not named.

The helicopter crashed on 4 February last year, on an airstrip near Nowra, New South Wales.

Mr deGruy and Mr Wight, who was piloting the aircraft, were headed to Jervis Bay to film a specially equipped submarine.

In the 45-page legal document, which can be viewed via Deadline Hollywood, the estate of Michael deGruy states that Wight noticed his side door was open when he was ten feet off the ground, and reached with his hand to close it before losing control of the aircraft.

That papers claim the defendants should have known that Mr Wight "was incompetent or unfit to fly the subject helicopter".

The wrongful death legal claim also adds that the helicopter, which caught fire after the fuel tank ruptured, "was not crashworthy and its design posed a risk of severe injury and/or death in the event of a crash."

Mr deGruy had also worked with Cameron on his 2005 documentary, Last Mysteries of the Titanic, as the director of undersea photography.

The Emmy and Bafta-winning cameraman had also contributed heavily to BBC series Life in the Freezer, The Trials of Life and Blue Planet.

At the time of the crash, Cameron said in a statement: "Mike and Andrew were like family to me. They were my deep-sea brothers and both were true explorers who did extraordinary things and went places no human being has been."

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