Wild Croc Territory and Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright has been charged in connection with a February helicopter accident that killed his friend and Outback Wrangler co-star Chris "Willow" Wilson. Police in Darwin allege that Wright was involved in a conspiracy to cover up evidence linked to the crash, in which Wilson fell from a sling dangling from the helicopter on February 28. He was collecting crocodile eggs in a remote area of the West Arnhem Land at the time. Wright has denied any wrongdoing.
Australian animal catcher Matt Wright, who stars in Netflix's Wild Croc Territory, was charged in connection with a February helicopter crash that killed his friend, Chris "Willow" Wilson. Police in Darwin said Wright, 43, was involved in an alleged conspiracy to cover up evidence linked to the crash. Wright has denied any wrongdoing.
News.com.au reports that Wright was in Darwin Local Court on November 30, facing seven charges including attempting to pervert the course of justice, destroying evidence, and fabricating evidence. Police allege that he also interfered with other witnesses.
"He is disappointed that charges have been laid over what was a tragic accident that took the life of Matt's closest friend, Chris Wilson," Wright's lawyer, David Newey, said in a statement. "Regulatory investigations have found no defect in the helicopter engine. The aircraft was flown following an inspection from independent aviation experts. A few weeks before they cleared the helicopter to fly."
Two other people were charged in connection with the crash: pilot Michael Keith Burbidge, and former Acting Senior Sergeant Neil Ryan Mellon. A follow-up hearing will take place on January 25. Wright, who had been bailed on the condition that he remained at his current residence and avoided contact with certain people involved with the case, He is now also being required to pay for a security team.
Wright claims that he has left his helicopter business -- not because he was required to, but because conditions of his bail made it difficult to contact his colleagues. He intends to resume the business if he is acquitted.
"It's been an extremely tough time on everyone," Wright said in a statement. "Obviously, though, it's hardest on Willow's family. The worst part of all of this is losing Willow. It's also difficult to see it being made out that safety isn't a priority for us."
Wilson was found 40 meters from the site of the crash, which was detected hours after other pilots in the area realized that they could not hear Wright's helicopter. Pilot Sebastian Robinson also suffered injuries in the crash. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau's investigation determined that the engine stopped before the crash, but could not find any defects with the helicopter itself.
Wilson and Wright appeared together in Outback Wrangler, produced by National Geographic between 2011 and 2020. In October, Netflix released the first season of Wild Croc Territory. Wright has said that they are producing a second season, but Netflix has yet to announce it, and it seems likely that they will hold off until a disposition is made in the criminal case.