Troy Gentry, part of the music duo Montgomery Gentry, died on Friday after a helicopter crash in New Jersey. Now details are finally emerging about what happened to cause the fatal crash and how the singer's loved ones are planning to celebrate his life.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm that Troy Gentry, half of the popular country duo, Montgomery Gentry, was tragically killed in a helicopter crash which took place at approximately 1:00 p.m. today in Medford, New Jersey,” the band said in a statement on their Facebook page on Friday.
The 50-year-old country star decided to take an impromptu, spur of the moment helicopter trip during the afternoon ahead of his concert at the Flying W Airport and Resort in Medford on Friday night. The show was cancelled immediately following reports of the accident.
“The day started with such excitement as the Montgomery Gentry bus rolled through our gates. The nicest people got off the bus and joined us on the ramp for what we hoped would be the best concert we have ever had. Sadly this was not to be,” Flying W said in a statement posted on their website. “Instead the day turned to tragedy as a helicopter accident took the lives of the pilot and Mr. Gentry. No words can describe the sadness that the Flying W employees feel for the families.”
The venue is processing refunds for concert goers who had planned to attend the concert.
The crash is still under investigation, but new information has been release about what actually happened that afternoon.
The country music duo, known for chart toppers like If You Ever Stop Loving Me and Something to be Proud Of, was nominated for a Grammy in 2008 and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009. They were also inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
After the helicopter took off, the pilot encountered some issues and struggled with ways to avoid the crash. The pilot had to wait for the fire department before trying to land. The 30-year-old pilot, James Evan Robinson, was also killed in the tragic accident, according to authorities. Robinson worked as a helicopter pilot at a flight school located at the airport.
"Not long after takeoff, the pilot announced over the airport frequency – which was being monitored by a number of people – that he was having difficulty controlling engine RPM," Brian Rayner, senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, told People. "The helicopter landed short of the runway in low brush, it was substantially damaged and the occupants were fatally injured."
A full report on the crash will be made available next week.
“Nobody loved life more than Troy Gentry,” music journalist and author Holly Gleason tells PEOPLE. “Whatever adventure, all night party or hardcore hillbilly song, he was up for it.”
Gleason who has been close with the band since she did publicity for them in the early 2000's had just seen them on stage at a music festival in Miami.
“He was on that stage, guitars blazing, trading vocals with his partner Eddie — and they made it feel like the biggest party in a place that knows how to party,” Gleason says. “Hot and sweltering as it was, the crowd was up, dancing and yowling and throwing down to ‘Hillbilly Shoes,’ ‘Gone’ and Charlie Daniels’ ‘All Night Long.’”
Top names in country paid homage to the music star.
So sad to hear the news of Troy Gentry. My prayers are with his family and friends. https://t.co/hhwZoc3TYY— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) September 8, 2017
God bless you Troy Gentry. Heartbroken and in disbelief.— Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) September 8, 2017
There will be a public memorial service on Thursday, which will also be available through streaming online.
"Troy Gentry's family wishes to acknowledge all of the kind thoughts and prayers, and asks for privacy at this time," a statement read.