Chris Darnell, 40, was identified as the driver of the Shockwave Jet Truck that drove through or by an explosion and caught flames, which resulted in smoke and debris, as shown in a video of the accident, Battle Creek Police confirmed via NBC News.
Authorities haven’t determined whether the initial burst of flames — which led to a black cloud of smoke filling the air — was part of the display at the Battle Creek Field of Light Air Show and Balloon Festival or a result of the accident.
The annual event was promoted on the Michigan government’s website as featuring “pyro and the WALL OF FIRE” ahead of the accident.
Two prop planes performed aerial tricks while flying low above the jet-powered semi-truck as it drove quickly down the runway prior to catching on fire.
The victim’s father, Neal Darnell, cited “a mechanical failure on the Jet Truck” as the cause of the accident leading to his son’s death in a post shared on the Shockwave Jet Truck & Flash Fire Jet Trucks Facebook account.
“Regretfully Chris Darnell the driver and my youngest son passed away from his injuries at approximately 1:01 pm,” Neal Darnell wrote. “No one else was involved. I will post more information as we get it. We will provide Funeral Arrangements sometime this week.
“We are so sad. Just one month ago Chris turned 40. He was so well loved by everyone who knew him. Chris so loved the Air Show business. He was ‘Living the Dream’ as he said.”
The truck involved in the crash was created by the late Les Shockley, who is credited as a pioneer of jet trucks, which the Darnell family has used since 2012 and uses the frame of a 1985 Peterbilt and three J-34 jet engines, according to the International Council of Air Shows via NBC News.