Vaughan died of internal and skull injuries

EAST TROY, Wis. -- Blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan died of massive internal and head injuries suffered in a helicopter accident, and the pilot of the craft had two previous crashes, officials said Tuesday.

The two-time Grammy-award winning guitarist and four others died in Monday morning's crash just after Vaughan performed at nearby Alpine Valley Music Theater with his brother, Jimmie, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray and Buddy Guy.


The others killed in the crash were the pilot and three member's of Clapton's entourage. There were no survivors.

'They died of massive internal and skull injuries sustained in the crash,' Walworth County Coroner John T. Griebel said.

Griebel said results of toxicology tests done on all the victims would be available in several days. Vaughan's body was transported Monday night from Elkhorn to Milwaukee, and flown to his hometown of Austin, Texas.


Vaughan's publicist, Charles Comer, said a private funeral service would be held for the family at an undisclosed time. He said there would be a public graveside committal service Friday at noon at Laurel Land Funeral Home in Dallas.

Investigators said fog and haze were a factor in the crash. 'Weather is a factor,' said William Bruce, air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. 'To what degree it plays in this, we don't know yet.'

Federal Aviation Administration records showed the pilot, Jeffrey W. Brown, of East Chicago, Ind., had two previous accidents in Chicago. His commercial pilot certificate also had been suspended for four days in 1973 for improper marking of an aircraft, FAA spokesman Roland Helwig said at the FAA Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City.

Helwig said Brown was involved in an 'uncontrolled collision with the ground' in a Hughes 69B helicopter on July 31, 1977. Engine malfunction was cited as the cause of a crash Sept. 19, 1989, when Brown was piloting a Bell 206-B helicopter, like the one that crashed Monday.

No injuries were reported and no disciplinary action was taken in either case, Helwig said, and he emphasized that it was not unusual for a pilot to be involved in three accidents.


The helicopter at Alpine Valley, a 1978 Bell 206-B, had no history of accidents, Helwig said. Neither does the helicopter's owner, Omni Flight Helicopters Inc. of Chicago, the records showed.

Comer said the Vaughan family was coping with the death of the guitarist. 'They're coping as best as they can.'

'It's just a senseless, tragic loss,' Comer said. 'A fan in Florida called me. He said, 'Maybe God just wanted a really good player there.''

Comer said the Vaughan family was asking donations be made to the Stevie Ray Vaughan Charitable Funds of the Communities Foundation of Texas in lieu of flowers.

Clapton's press agent, Ronnie Lippin, said in Los Angeles that the performer's tour would continue Tuesday night with a show in Bonner Springs, Kan. 'The guys in the band sat down and talked,' she said. 'They just wanted to go on, somehow.'

Bruce said the five-seat Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter flew into the side of a 388-foot ski hill. There was no evidence the helicopter hit anything else first.

Besides Vaughan and Brown, those killed in the crash were Bobby Brooks, Clapton's booking agent, Nigel Browne, Clapton's bodyguard, and Colin Smythe, one of Clapton's tour managers.


Vaughan, 35, won a 'best traditional blues recording' Grammy in 1984 for 'Texas Flood,' and won this year in the contemporary blues category for his record 'In Step.' He shared a Grammy in 1985 for his participation in the compilation album, 'Blues Explosion.'

The Vaughan brothers' long-awaited collaboration album 'Family Style' is due out Sept. 25, and Stevie Ray Vaughan was to start a European tour next week.

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