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Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu
By Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu April 17, 2024

Filmmaker Mike deGruy died in a helicopter crash, not for “exposing the truth”

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  • Mike deGruy, a nature filmmaker, died in a 2012 helicopter crash in Australia.

  • He did not discover deep-sea brine lakes, nor did he die because he filmed one.

  • No spin, just facts you can trust. Here's how we do it.

Did filmmaker Mike deGruy die for exposing hidden truths he found underwater? A viral Facebook video suggests so. 

"This is why exposing the truth is scary!!" the text on an April 12 video read. In the next scene, a computer-generated voice says "people who expose the truth." After that, the post shows a clip of deGruy discussing his work filming underwater in the Gulf of Mexico for the BBC’s 2001 "Blue Planet" series.

The filmmaker discussed the wonders of an underwater brine lake he and his crew members saw and their difficulties filming it. The video then flashes text about deGruy's 2012 death in a helicopter crash and ends with the scene of a helicopter crash in a field.

The Facebook video was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

But deGruy’s death is neither conspiratorial nor linked to his deep-sea filming of this brine lake. DeGruy died Feb. 4, 2012, in a helicopter crash in Australia 11 years after "Blue Planet" was released. DeGruy, 60, died alongside Australian filmmaker Andrew Wight, 52, who was piloting the helicopter. Both were collaborators with "Titanic" director James Cameron, and the trio shared a passion for undersea exploration.

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Similar claims have been shared on TikTok and have drawn thousands of comments.

The crash happened because the pilot’s door wasn’t properly closed before takeoff from an aerodrome, an Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation found. "It says the pilot probably let go of the cyclic control while trying to close the door, causing the nose to pitch up, and the tail to hit the ground," the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

DeGruy was not the first to discover brine lakes, pools of toxic, highly salty water caused by "the dissolution of buried salt deposits," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The specific lake he filmed had been found several years before the documentary. Scientists have discovered brine lakes elsewhere, including the Red Sea and other parts of the Gulf of Mexico.

We rate the claim that Mike deGruy died for "exposing the truth" Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Facebook post, Apr. 12, 2024

Australian Broadcasting Corp., Open door caused fatal chopper crash: ATSB, May 3, 2013

Australian Broadcasting Corp., NSW chopper victims were top filmmakers, Feb. 5, 2012

YouTube, BBC Earth - Discovering underwater lake ecosystems for Blue Planet II #OurBluePlanet, Jan 27, 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald, Filmmaker died trying to shut helicopter door before crash, May 4, 2013

iMDb, BBC - The Blue Planet, accessed Apr. 17, 2024

The Guardian, Film-makers Mike deGruy and Andrew Wight killed in helicopter smash, Feb. 5, 2012

DeepSea Challenge, Tribute to Andrew & Mike, accessed Apr. 17, 2024

YouTube, Tribute to Mike Degruy, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, Feb. 1, 2023, Rare deep-sea brine pools discovered in Red Sea, Jul. 12, 2022

Frontiers in Marine Science, Discovery and chemical composition of the eastmost deep-sea anoxic brine pools in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Nov. 17, 2022

YouTube, Water lake at the deep sea bottom - by Mike deGruy BBC - As above, so below, Jan. 15, 2018

Science Alert, Scientists Have Found a Lake Under The Sea – Those Who Swim There Won't Come Back Alive, Feb. 9, 2018

The Temple News, Temple professor finds deep-sea brine pools, Nov. 15, 2016

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Lakes Within Oceans, accessed Apr. 17, 2024

TikTok post, Aug. 29, 2022

TikTok post, Sep. 4, 2023

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Filmmaker Mike deGruy died in a helicopter crash, not for “exposing the truth”

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