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Helicopter Crash During Shooting of Chuck Norris Film Kills 4

May 17, 1989 GMT

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A helicopter used in filming a Chuck Norris action movie crashed into a ravine and exploded Tuesday, killing four people, two of them Americans, officials said.

The other four people aboard, including two Americans, were seriously injured, authorities said.

The scene for ″Stranglehold: Delta Force II″ called for the French-made Dauphin helicopter to catch fire and it took several moments before the stunned crew on the ground realized the crash was real, said police investigator Jaime Talay.

The crash occurred near a mansion once owned by former President Ferdinand Marcos in Tagaytay, a mountain resort 30 miles south of Manila.

Norris was not on the set when the crash occurred but he was in the Philippines, said Randy Maiers, spokesman for Cannon Entertainment of Beverly Hills, Calif., maker of the movie. Maiers spoke in Los Angeles.

Police and members of the film crew said the single-rotor, 14-passenger helicopter had just taken off to film a scene when it veered to the left and plunged into a 40-foot ravine.

A fire truck stationed nearby helped extinguish the blaze, Talay said.

Authorities and the movie company identified the three film crew members killed as Americans Don Marshall, the gaffer, or chief electrician, and Mike Graham, the key grip, or head of the set handymen, and cameraman Gadi Danzig, an Israeli citizen. No home towns were available.

The Filipino pilot, Jojo Imperial, died a few hours later in a hospital, officials said.

Among the injured, with a dislocated shoulder, was John P. Ryan, a white- haired character actor in his 50s who plays the Delta Force commander in the current movie, reported Todd Eisner, assistant to Ryan’s manager, in Los Angeles. Ryan played a warden in ″Runaway Train.″

In a statement released in the Philippines, Cannon Entertainment said eight people were aboard the helicopter. No one on the ground was hurt, the statement said.

Cannon said the scene was not considered hazardous or risky.

Besides Ryan, Cannon said other injured included Geoff Brewer, an actor- stuntman, about 30, of Los Angeles; Rami Siman-Tov, an Israeli crew member, and actor Mateo Gomez. Police said Gomez was an American, but U.S. Embassy spokesman Jerry Huchel said he was not.

The statement said surgery was performed late Tuesday and victims were recovering. Spokesmen at the U.S.-run Clark Air Base, 50 miles north of Manila, said the injured were transferred there Wednesday to determine theri conditions.

The Dauphin, also known as the Dolphin, is made for both military and civilian use by Aerospatiale, the French government-controlled aircraft company.

Officials said the aircraft was owned by Traders Royal Bank, a Filipino bank.

The crew of ″Stranglehold: Delta Force II″ had been in the Philippines for two months and were due to finish filming on May 27. The movie depicts the destruction of a Latin American drug syndicate.

It was the second accident involving a Norris film in the Philippines.

In 1987, a Philippine military Sikorsky helicopter used by Norris’ crew crashed in Manila Bay, killing three Filipino soldiers working as extras.

The 1987 crash took place while Norris was filming ″Missing In Action, Part III - Braddock.″