Three French Olympians Killed in Reality TV Helicopter Crash

Helicopter Crash

On Monday in Argentina, three French Olympic athletes were killed in a collision between two helicopters. The athletes were in a remote part of the country to compete in the new reality TV show “Dropped.”

Camille Muffat, 25, won three medals in the 2012 London Olympics: gold in the 400-meter freestyle in London, silver in the 200-meter freestyle, and bronze in the 4 by 200-meter freestyle relay. She was one of only three French women to win three medals at one Olympics, along with Laure Manaudou in 2004 and Micheline Ostermeyer in 1948.

Alexis Vastine, 28, was a welterweight who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He lost his semifinal bout in a controversial decision because he was penalized for pushing his opponent down; Vastine was roughly half a foot taller. In 2012, he lost another controversial decision in the quarterfinals.

Florence Arthaud, 57, was the first woman to win the Route du Rhum race, a trans-Atlantic single-handed yacht race in which she sailed from Brittany to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe in 1990.

Seven other people, including the pilots, were killed in the crash, which occurred near Villa Castelli, about 730 miles (1,170 kilometers) northwest of Buenos Aires,according to La Rioja regional Secretary of Security Cesar Angulo. The crash site lies in a remote area of the Andes mountain range between Argentina and Chile. The provincial government released a brief statement, asserting, “The helicopter from La Rioja was a Eurocopter with a capacity to hold six people. It appears to have brushed against the other helicopter from Santiago del Estero shortly after takeoff.”

The cause of the crash is as yet undetermined; French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France’s foreign ministry is working with Argentinian officials to discover the cause. On Tuesday, Le Monde reported that French officials have opened a manslaughter investigation, led by the air transport body (GTA).

The company producing “Dropped,” Adventure Line Productions, also produced the reality show “Koh Lanta,” which was marred two years ago when a 25-year-old contestant died from a heart attack on the first day of filming in Cambodia. Adventure Line released a statement after Monday’s crash saying its staffers were “devastated” and “share the deep pain of the families and loved ones.”

There were other French athletes in Argentina to participate in the show, including France and Arsenal striker Sylvain Wiltord, ice skating champion Philippe Candeloro, Alain Bernard, who won four medals for swimming at the 2008 and 2012 Games, and cyclist Jeannie Longo.

Candeloro told RTL radio that the rest of the competitors for the show were waiting for French consular officials at the hotel Tuesday.