Atlanta Buzz

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Two crew members killed, metro Atlanta man injured on the set of Tom Cruise movie "Mena"

A weather-related plane crash in Medellin, Colombia has killed two crew members and injured a Georgia pilot who were working on the Tom Cruise movie "Mena," which filmed partly in metro Atlanta, the Associated Press reports. 

Cruise was not aboard.

This photo released by the San Pedro de los Milagros Fire Department shows the wreckage of a small plane assigned to the crew of a film starring Tom Cruise, that crashed, in a rural place of San Pedro de los Milagros, Colombia, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. The country's civilian aviation authority said the twin-engine Aerostar crashed Friday after taking off from a small colonial town near Medellin, killing two people, including a Los Angeles-based film pilot, and seriously injuring a third. (San Pedro de los Milagros Fire Department via AP)

Tom Cruise "The two people killed were identified as American film pilot Alan David Purwin and Colombian Carlos Berl," the AP reports. "Another American pilot, Jimmy Lee Garland, has been severely injured and hospitalized in Medellin."

Members of a community page are rallying prayers and support for Garland, a partner with S&S Aviation in Cherokee County. A member reported that he's in surgery with "a broken arm, both legs broken, punctured lung, and spinal injuries."

Purwin was chairman of Helinet, a Van Nuys, Calif. firm that provides aviation services to motion picture, news, charter, medical and government clients. Helinet CEO Steve Gatena posted a moving tribute to his friend and colleague:

"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.

Alan was both a pioneer in the film industry and committed philanthropist. His legacy includes many feats such as, conducting the first vital organ transplant mission in Los Angeles, supporting the first response rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and being the only American Hollywood Movie Pilot to fly throughout the People’s Republic of China.

Alan will be missed by everyone who has had the pleasure of knowing him. His entrepreneurial vision will be remembered by everyone who has had the pleasure of working with him. There are no words that can express our heartache for we have lost one of the world's greatest helicopter pilots and one of aviation’s greatest leaders."




The community is in prayer for Jimmy Lee Garland, injured in a weather-related accident on the Columbia set of "Mena." Photo: S&S Aviation

"Mena" filmed for several weeks in Ball Ground, and shot in Atlanta and Madison as well.


Cruise makes friends in Ball Ground

Cruise spotted in Midtown

Cruise in Buckhead 

Photos of the "Mena" set


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About the Author

Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for

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