Jet truck driver dies in Michigan air show crash

The driver of a jet-powered semitruck died after the vehicle crashed in a fiery crash in Michigan on Saturday, police said.

Battle Creek police have identified 40-year-old Chris Darnell as the man behind the wheel of the Shockwave Jet truck.

It’s unclear if those first flames, which produced a cloud of black smoke, were part of the expected display at the annual Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival. The Website of State Govt Advertises the event and features “Pyro and Wall of Fire”.

Two prop planes were performing aerial maneuvers and flying above the truck when the accident occurred.

In a post on Jet Truck Facebook Page, Darnell’s father, Neil Darnell, attributed the crash to mechanical failure.

“We are very sad,” Darnell said in the recording. “Chris turned 40 a month ago. He was loved by all who knew him. Chris loved the air show business. He was ‘Living the Dream’ as he said.

The truck, developed by the late Les Shockley, said to be the pioneer of jet trucks, has been operated by Darnell since 2012, according to the International Council of Air Shows. The vehicle is based on a 1985 Peterbilt and is powered by three J-34 jet engines, the council said.

The semi-truck is said to reach speeds of over 300 mph. Chris Darnell claimed to hold the jet truck speed record at 375 mph in his team’s Flash Fire jet-modified pickup in 2005 in Florida.

No other injuries were reported following the crash, which was reported just after 1pm on Saturday.

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Police said organizers canceled the air show for the day, but other festivities will continue as planned until Monday, when the festival ends.

The event also includes musical performances and fireworks.

Battle Creek police, the fire department and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash and cause, police said.

Correction: (July 4, 2022, 12:20 am ET): An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the event. This is the Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival, not the Field of Light.

Michelle Acevedo Contributed.

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