Two helicopters collided in Argentina on Monday, killing 10 people. The French presidential office confirmed that among the deceased were three high-profile French athletes.
Olympic gold-medal swimmer Camille Muffat, bronze-medal boxer Alexis Vastine and champion sailor Florence Arthaud were among the eight French nationalists who died in the crash. Two Argentinian pilots also died.
The crash happened in the Argentinian provence of La Rioja, roughly 730 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. According to BBC News, the athletes were in Argentina being filmed for a popular French reality TV survival show called Dropped.
Both helicopters and everyone on board were involved in the filming of the TV show.
“The sudden death of our fellow French nationals is cause of immense sadness,” French President François Hollande said in a statement.
Camille Muffat was a 25-year-old from Nice who competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics. At the London games, she won the gold-medal in the 400-meter freestyle, setting a new Olympic record. She also took home a silver medal in the 200-meter freestyle and a bronze in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay at the 2012 games. She was named French Sportswoman of the Year in 2012 by French sporting newspaper, L’Équipe.
Alexis Vastine was a 28-year-old from Pont-Audemer. He took home a bronze medal in Beijing in 2008 in the light-welterweight category. He narrowly missed medaling in the 2012 games as he was defeated in a controversial quarter-final matchup.
Florence Arthaud was a 57-year-old from Boulogne-Billancourt. An accomplished sailor, Arthaud won the 1990 Route du Rhum, the prestigious, solo, trans-atlantic yacht-race. She made a name for herself in a sport previously dominated by men. In 1990, she was named French Champion of Champions by L’Équipe.
“We are shocked by this sad news,” International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach. “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these great athletes who have left us. The world of sport and the Olympic family have lost three of their key members.”
Other contestants on Dropped included swimmer Alain Bernard, footballer Sylvain Wiltord, cyclist Jeannie Longo, snowboarder Anne-Flore Marxer and skater Phillipe Candeloro. None of these athletes were in the helicopters, however they were standing on the ground nearby wearing blindfolds as part of the show, at the time of the crash.
Investigations of the cause of the crash are underway.