An Indiana, Pa., man was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles while working on a military-themed reality show for the Discovery Channel.
Michael Donatelli, 45, was one of three people, including the pilot, who were killed in the crash, according to Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Jason Brandenburg. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
The crash occurred about 3:45 a.m. on the Polsa Rosa Ranch in Acton, north of Los Angeles. Officials at the ranch declined to comment.
Mr. Donatelli served four tours of duty in Iraq, worked as a Washington, D.C., police officer and "has been involved in the special operations community for over 20 years," according to the biography listed on AMJ Security and Vehicle Training's website, a company of which he is listed as a co-founder.
The site said Mr. Donatelli was an accomplished amateur boxer and coach.
The reality show the Army and special forces veteran was working on was listed as "Untitled Military Show" on permit documents provided by FilmL.A., a nonprofit that coordinates with governmental authorities in seeking permits for filmmakers.
Both the Discovery Channel and production company Eyeworks USA declined to comment on the details of the show or why they were using a helicopter.
Crossbow Helicopters was approved to fly on the Polsa Rosa Ranch, according to FAA documents provided by FilmL.A.
Polsa Rosa was the site of another film-related incident in September when a crew member died in a scuba tank connected to the filming of the upcoming Johnny Depp film "The Lone Ranger."
NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said it's too early to know the cause of the crash. It could take up to 18 months before a cause is determined, although a preliminary report should be available in the next two weeks, Mr. Holloway said.
Mr. Donatelli is survived by his parents; wife, Grisel; and five children, according to the Indiana Gazette.
The Discovery Channel expressed its condolences in a press release: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families."
Alex Zimmerman: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @AGZimmerman. Rob Owen contributed.