Darrell Ward, star of the popular reality series Ice Road Truckers, has been killed in a small plane crash near Missoula, Montana, authorities said.
The long-haul trucker was on his way to begin filming a new documentary about recovering plane wrecks when he and his co-pilot crashed next to Interstate 90, according to a press release posted on his Facebook page.
The 52-year-old died in the fiery crash along with pilot Mark Melotz, who appeared to be headed toward a small landing strip when “something went terribly wrong,” Missoula County Sheriff’s Capt. Bill Burt told the Associated Press Sunday.
Family and friends waiting for the pair said the Cessna 182 appeared to stall and clipped a stand of trees, according to Burt. The vessel crashed on the highway’s shoulder, burst into flames and was reduced to rubble.
Ward starred in five seasons of the History channel series about truck drivers hauling heavy loads on icy and treacherous highways in remote areas.
He had 30 years of experience driving in extreme weather along dangerous roadways from Montana to Alaska before joining the show. His motto was “Any road, any load.”
“We are saddened by the tragic loss of Darrell Ward, a beloved member of the History family. He will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time,” read a statement from the show posted on the channel’s Facebook page.
“In his free time, you could usually find Darrell giving back to the community any chance he got,” read the statement on Ward’s Facebook page.
"He had promoted the most recent food drive to help victims in the Louisiana floods and was scheduled to appear as the grand marshal for the Truck Convoy for Special Olympics in Nova Scotia."
There was no announcement of funeral or memorial services.
His family has asked for privacy, the statement said.