Crash kills marine photojournalists

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SEPT. 13 — What started out as a routine photo shoot for 50-year-old Thomas Newby turned out to be deadly.

Newby, a 12-year veteran staffer of Powerboat magazine, and freelance videographer Mark Copeland, 44 were on a helicopter in the Gulf of Mexico shooting video and photographs of six catamarans and V-bottom boats on Tuesday when they crashed, according to the Ventura County Star newspaper.

Both men were pronounced dead when they were brought to shore south of Sarasota, Fla. One witness told ABC7 Eyewitness News for Southern California that the helicopter came down close to the water to get a shot of the last boat when it caught a wave and flipped, sending it headfirst into 20 feet of water. The pilot, Mark Waters, 44 of Pasadena, Fla. was in serious condition Tuesday at BayfrontMedicalCenter in St. Petersburg, Fla., according to Ventura County Star.

“[Newby] was the pre-eminent photographer when it came to shooting racing. He was the best in the business,” Powerboat editor Gregg Mansfield told the Star. “Powerboat is where it is today in part because of Tom Newby.”

Mansfield said the magazine has been using helicopters to capture boats on the water for 37 years with no problems, and approximates Newby shot more than 324,000 photographs for them since joining the team in 1993.

-- Elizabeth Ellis