By GEOFF MULVIHILL
LUMBERTON, N.J. (AP) – A helicopter carrying singer Troy Gentry, of the award-winning country music duo Montgomery Gentry, crashed on Friday, killing Gentry and the pilot.
The crash occurred in a wooded area as the helicopter approached the Flying W Airport in Medford hours before Montgomery Gentry was due to perform at a resort housed at the airport, authorities said.
The band’s website called Gentry’s death “tragic” and said details of the crash were unknown.
“Troy Gentry’s family wishes to acknowledge all of the kind thoughts and prayers, and asks for privacy at this time,” the website said.
Gentry, who was 50 years old, was from Kentucky.
Police got a call at about 1 p.m. of a helicopter that was in distress, said Joel Bewley, a spokesman for the Burlington County prosecutor’s office. The helicopter crashed as emergency crews arrived at the scene.
Crews removed Gentry, who was a passenger, from the wreckage, but he was pronounced dead at a hospital, Medford police Chief Richard Meder said.
The crews worked for hours to remove the body of pilot James Evan Robinson from the mangled wreckage. Robinson had been living in Medford but was originally from Meigs, Georgia. He was a helicopter pilot at the flight school at the Flying W Airport, police said.
Members of the country duo’s band including the other half of the duo, Eddie Montgomery, were at the airport when the helicopter crashed, Meder said. They were taken to the hospital to see Gentry, he said.
The helicopter had taken off from the Flying W Airport but went into distress and was approaching the airport to land when it crashed, Meder said. The purpose of the helicopter trip wasn’t known.
The National Transportation Safety Board was headed to the crash scene.
Gentry was born in Lexington, Kentucky, where he met Montgomery and they formed an act based off their surnames.
Montgomery Gentry had success on the country charts and country radio in the 2000s, scoring No. 1 hits with “Roll With Me,” ”Back When I Knew It All,” ”Lucky Man,” ”Something to Be Proud Of” and “If You Ever Stop Loving Me.” Some of the songs even cracked the Top 40 on the pop charts.
The band mixed country music with Southern rock. It was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009. It released its debut album, “Tattoos & Scars,” in 1999.
Associated Press writer Kristen de Groot contributed to this story from Philadelphia.
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