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French sports stars among dead in Argentina plane crash

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A group of French sports stars participating in a reality TV show were among 10 people killed on Monday when their helicopters collided in mid-air while filming in northwestern Argentina.

Champion sailor Florence Arthaud, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Camille Muffat and Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine were among those killed when two helicopters filming the survival series “Dropped” crashed into each other in the rugged mountains of La Rioja province, local officials said.

“Apparently, the two helicopters collided as they were filming. There are no survivors,” said provincial spokesman Horacio Alarcon.

He said the weather conditions were good and the cause of the crash was unknown.

Eight French passengers and their two Argentine pilots died in the crash, a police source said.

The provincial government later said they included stars Arthaud, 57, Muffat, 25, and Vastine, 28.

The series, which was to air on French television channel TF1, involved eight sports stars being dropped into inhospitable environments for an adventure- and survival-themed reality show.

The provincial government said a cast and crew of around 80 people, mostly French nationals, had descended on the area in recent days to film the series.

Shooting began in late February in Ushuaia, at the southern tip of South America in the glacial landscape of Patagonia.

It then moved to La Rioja, whose scenic mountain landscapes are popular with tourists. The crash happened near the town of Villa Castelli around 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) north of the capital Buenos Aires.

One of the helicopters was provided by the provincial government and the other by the police force in the neighboring province of Santiago del Estero.

Police and firefighters were still working to recover the victims’ bodies when night fell, using floodlights to illuminate the area, a police source told AFP.

Officials from the air force, which is in charge of investigating air accidents in Argentina, were en route to the scene.

“It’s been four hours since the collision and (the wreckage) is still on fire. There’s smoke rising from the helicopters,” said a police source at the scene.


Muffat won gold in London, while Vastine won bronze in Beijing.

Such a tragedy.

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I was shocked to learn this, this morning, especially as a sport fan. When I heard Alexis Vastine & Florence Arthaud were among the victim I had a shock but when they named Camille Muffat it sounded incredible.

Not only Alexis Vastine was a handsome, talened boxer, but he was a very funny and sensitive guy.


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As for Florence Arthaud, I knew her less because she wasn't an athlete of my generation but I know her as the woman who sailed by herself in 1990 and beat all of the men she was opposed to. The first one who showed a woman could beat men in this discipline. We've lost 3 spearheads of the French sport.


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I was absolutely in shock this morning. I couldn't help but cry. France has lost 3 great athletes. I will never forget Alexis' tears for the unfair judging at the Beiing and London Games. Rio had to be the one when it's all fixed up and he'll finally get the gold, but no, fate has decided otherwise.

Today is a very sad today.

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I read Bernard was about to ride on one of the helicopters, but since he's too heavy he had to wait for a third one to get him.

Good time to be too heavy.

I send my condolences to the families and the French people and sporting bodies, may their legacies inspire future generations of French athletes to run faster, jump higher, and be stronger.

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Just awful! What an appalling tragedy!

My sincerest condolences to France and French sport! :(

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Just awful! What an appalling tragedy!

My sincerest condolences to France and French sport! :(

Thanks Mainad.

Believe it or not - and even I was surprised to feel so sad about all this - but we've all been particularly shocked by the deaths of those 2 young guys in such dreadful circumstances. Not to forget the amazing & brave F.Arthaud. 2 young athletes who also happened to be amazing human beings, talented, and struck by destiny. Life's really ugly sometimes.

The INSEP, a training center which is a kind of goldmine where all the biggest hopes of French sport go, paid them a heartbreaking tribute today. Many of them were in tears and it should remind us that we still have great athletes. Great athletes that us French people should also support for the moving tribute they gave to their lost friends. Among them, and as a way to try to look ahead:

Loic Pietri (judo)


Eloyse Lesueur (long jump)


Romain Magula (swimming)


Giacomo Perez Dortona (swimming)


We share their pain and will be backing this new generation of athletes.

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