Widow of pilot sues over death connected to Tom Cruise film, ‘Mena’

Alan Purwin and Tom Cruise working on 'Mena' in Colombia. The movie is set to be released in January 2017.
Alan Purwin and Tom Cruise working on 'Mena' in Colombia. The movie is set to be released in January 2017. Instagram / Alan Purwin @Apurwin

The wife of a Hollywood stunt pilot killed in a plane crash while filming Mena with Tom Cruise last year is suing the production companies for wrongful death.

Alan Purwin, 54, was a passenger on board a plane that went down in the Colombian jungle on the last day of filming. He was one of the two crew members killed last September in the plane crash. Carlos Berl, the pilot, was killed and Jimmy Lee Garland was seriously injured.

READ MORE: The Stunt That Finally Scared Tom Cruise

Kathy Purwin’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and has been filed against Cross Creek Pictures LLC, Imagine Entertainment LLC, Vendian Entertinament LLC, Quadrant Pictures and Berl’s estate.

According to court documents obtained by Entertainment Weekly:

“Defendants knew that the Accident Aircraft would be flown over rugged, mountainous terrain and in the Republic of Colombia, and yet failed to ensure that Carlos Berl was competent, qualified, rested and sufficiently informed for the flight,” states the complaint filed Friday by the wife and children of Purwin.

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The suit also claims that Carlos Berl was not a member of the crew and producers violated the closed set policies by allowing him on location.

READ MORE: Canadian pilot who died in Nashville crash was drunk, obsessed with celebrity

It was reported that at the time of the crash on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, the small plane ran into inclement weather after taking off from Santa Fe de Antioquia for a short flight to Medellin. No emergency was reported to air traffic controllers.

Purwin was founder and president of the Helinet Technologies, a company providing aerial surveillance technology to law enforcement. He was also the chairman of Helinet, a helicopter service based at Van Nuys Airport in California. The helicopter transportation company provides aviation services to motion picture, news, charter, medical and government clients.

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Producer and director, Michael Bay, created a video tribute of Purwin’s best shots and footage of him speaking.

Helinet CEO, Steve Gatena, posted a tribute to his friend and colleague on the company website shortly after his death.

“Alan Purwin was a great man, a world-renowned aviator, and a brilliant entrepreneur. At Helinet, Alan was known for his passion, generosity, and ability to make us all feel as though we were a part of something much bigger than ourselves. We are deeply saddened by the loss of our heroic founder and our thoughts and prayers go out to the Purwin family.”

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Purwin served on the Board of Trustees of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and created a program that provided helicopters and pilots for the transport patients. The Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has created a fundraising page so people can make donations in his memory.

READ MORE: 5 killed in tourist helicopter crash in Smoky Mountains

Purwin’s credits as an A-list helicopter pilot include Suicide Squad, The Hunger Games franchise, Straight Outta Compton, Jurassic World and Pirates of the Caribbean.


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Mena, a biographical drama-thriller set to be released on Jan. 6, 2017, is about Barry Seal who is played by Tom Cruise. Seal is a Trans World Airlines pilot who became a drug smuggler in the 1980s and was employed by the Drug Enforcement Administration to provide intelligence.

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