The driver of a truck powered by jet engines was killed during a high-speed accident in front of spectators at an air show in Michigan, police and relatives said Sunday.
Chris Darnell, 40, died Saturday at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show, where he was driving the SHOCKWAVE Jet Truck down a runway at more than 300 miles per hour, police said in a statement.
“We have lost our youngest son Chris in an accident doing what he loved; performing with SHOCKWAVE,” his father Neal Darnell said on Facebook. In a separate post, he said the accident was a result of “a mechanical failure on the Jet Truck.”
Video taken at the Battle Creek Executive Airport by apparent air show attendees and posted on social media showed the truck losing control, bursting into flames and crashing, flipping over multiple times as horrified spectators looked on.
Moments before the accident, the SHOCKWAVE was seen spewing pyrotechnic flames from its exhaust pipes, apparently a standard part of the truck performance.
The truck, which was touted on the company’s as the “world’s fastest semi,” having once reached a record speed of 376 miles per hour, was modified to carry three jet engines on the back, providing it with 36,000 horsepower and 21,000 pounds of thrust, according to the company’s website. The truck was driven by Darnell and owned by Darnell Racing Enterprises of Springfield, Missouri, the website says.
Battle Creek Police said the rest of Saturday’s schedule was canceled but the air show would resume Sunday, and that police, fire officials and the Federal Aviation Administration had launched investigations.
“We are so sad,” Neal Darnell wrote. “Just one month ago Chris turned 40. He was so well loved by everyone who knew him. Chris so loved the Air Show business. He was ‘Living the Dream’ as he said.”