Two of Three Dead in Reality-Shoot Copter Crash Identified (Update)

Three men working on an "untitled military project" were killed in a helicopter crash early Sunday in Acton, Calif.

Last Updated: February 11, 2013 @ 8:26 AM

Three men working on a reality TV show were killed in a helicopter crash early Sunday in Acton, Calif., authorities said.

All three occupants of the helicopter were pronounced dead at the scene, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer told TheWrap.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's office identified the pilot as 59-year-old David Gibbs of Valencia and one of the passengers as Darren Rydstrom, 45, of Whittier. The identity of the second passenger, who was believed to be from out of state, was being withheld pending notification of the family.

FilmL.A. told TheWrap Sunday that on Friday it issued a permit to Redondo Beach-based Bongo Inc. for a helicopter shoot for an ''Untitled Military Project" for the Discovery Channel to be conducted between 6 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday. Bongo Inc. is a part of 3 Ball Productions, producers of the reality show "The Biggest Loser."

In a statement, Eyeworks USA, owner of 3 Ball, said: "We can confirm that a helicopter crash occurred this morning while shooting a new series for a cable network, which resulted tragically in three fatalities. We are cooperating fully with the authorities. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of those involved."

Discovery issued a statement as well.

"A production company was shooting a show for Discovery Channel when this tragic accident occurred. We are all cooperating fully with authorities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families."

The crash occurred around 3:40 a.m. on a ranch with two airstrips that is often used as a location for movies, TV shows and commercials.

The location, called the Polsa Rosa Ranch, is a 730-acre area used for location filming deserts, jungles, forests, mesas, running rivers, and dry wash settings.

Polsa Rosa Rancho photo

The aircraft, a Bell 206B Jet Ranger helicopter, was substantially damaged, Kenitzer said.

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are investigating the crash. A preliminary report is generally published on the NTSB's website within a week or two of an incident, Kenitzer said. The probable cause of the crash often takes several months to determine.