Michigan Airshow Crash: Victim’s Father Speaks Out, Says He Was ‘Living the Dream’

by Jonathan Howard

A horrible airshow crash in Battle Creek, Michigan left one man dead at the Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival. The news came out over the Fourth of July holiday. As part of the show, a semi-truck with jet engines, driven by Chris Darnell, drove down the runway. Two planes flew overhead, racing. However, the SHOCKWAVE Jet Truck had some kind of complications that led to the accident.

What to Know

  • Chris Darnell died after his jet truck erupted in flames during an airshow this Fourth of July weekend
  • Darnell’s family has now spoken out about the incident
  • Along with the statement from the family, the production itself put out a statement saying they would continue in honor of Darnell

Darnell, 40, was driving the truck at around one in the afternoon this past Saturday. The pyrotechnics were going off, his truck was flying down the runway, and then it was engulfed in flames. According to the family of Darnell, a tire blew out on the truck which led to a “skid” and then caused the “gas tanks to burst,” according to People.

The airshow crash victim had been a motorsports enthusiast and participant for years. From racing to these shows, he loved engines and going fast. As his bio on the SHOCKWAVE site says, “He has literally done it all.”

The Shockwave Jet Truck & Flash Jet Trucks Facebook page made a post, from Chris’ father, Neal Darnell.

“Regretfully Chris Darnell the driver and my youngest son passed away from his injuries at approximately 1:01 pm,” the post read. “No one else was involved.”

Later on, the post says, “We are so sad. 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.”

After the incident happened, Battle Creek Police started an investigation as well as the Battle Creek Fire Department. Due to the event being an air show crash, the Federal Aviation Administration is also conducting an investigation.

Airshow Continues After Deadly Accident

Despite the awful incident that happened, the airshow continued after the crash. On Sunday, the festival said that they were going to keep the show going and it will be “flown in the memory of Chris Darnell.”

The event said that the family had participated in their events over the years and that they were with them in this time. With such an awful accident, the family is going to be reeling, but it turns out that there is some help on the way. A couple of bands have raised $2,000 for the Darnell family since Saturday. It’s times like this when communities come together and it’s great to see that happening here.

“The Sam Luna Band donated their paycheck to the Darnell Family and put a bucket out for donations,” the FB post said. “The Megan Rae Band followed suit with the bucket. Over the course of the two concerts last night, over $2,000 was raised.”

Rest in peace to Chris Darnell, hopefully, his family finds comfort during this time.