Reality television star Matt Wright has broken his silence after a warrant was issued for his arrest in relation to a fatal helicopter crash that killed his co-star earlier this year.
Chris “Willow” Wilson, who also starred in Outback Wrangler and Wild Croc Territory, was collecting crocodile eggs in the Northern Territory on February 28 when the helicopter he was in crashed, killing Wilson and leaving a second man badly injured.
Wright, 43, has now been asked to present to police in Darwin, Sky News Australia reported, and it’s expected he will be charged with several offenses, including perverting the course of justice, destruction of evidence, fabricating evidence, interfering with witnesses and two counts of unlawful entry.
In a statement provided to NCA NewsWire, a spokesman for Wright said he “strenuously denies any wrongdoing”.
“What happened was a tragic accident that took the life of a close mate,” the spokesman said.
“His immediate concern following the accident was the condition of the two team members on-board at the time.
“The next priority was ensuring the other helicopters and team members at the site weren’t at risk and that the location was safe.
“Matt will not be making any further statement, but he will be vigorously defending the charges.”
Wright has been living in Queensland and has until Wednesday to report to police in Darwin, where the crash has been under investigation for more than six months.
The 43-year-old flew to the scene of the crash in another helicopter with three other people.
Two of those people – pilot Michael Burbidge and police officer Neil Mellon – have since been charged with a number of offenses, including destroying evidence.
Both remain before the courts.
Former senior acting sergeant Mellon has been charged with 35 offenses and will return to court on December 7.
His charges include attempting to pervert the course of justice, destroying evidence and making false declarations.
Burbidge will return to court on January 25 on four charges, including attempting to pervert the course of justice, destroy evidence, making false declarations and fabricating evidence.
In the days after the crash, Wright shared a heartfelt tribute on social media to the man he called a “brother.”
“Willow you truly were an amazing person – a father every kid would wish for, a husband every man would aspire to be, a son to be proud of and a mate that’s a brother,” he captioned a series of images shared with his 510K Instagram followers on March 11.
“You have left an incredible legacy – you achieved so much, impacted those around you for the better and created adventures that showed everyone how to best spend our time here.”
He said he was grateful Wilson’s family would be able to keep his memory close by watching episodes of their television work.
“Mate, you were made for TV, a natural charisma and way with words that lit up the screen and made our shows what they are,” he said.
“I’m grateful Dani and the boys will be able to watch you and your adventures forever.”
Wright’s wife, Kaia, gave birth to the couple’s second child, a daughter named Dusty Faith, on November 18.
“Willow – how grateful I am that you and @mattwright found each other in this lifetime to play together,” she wrote in a tribute to Wilson in March.
“Thank you for being an awesome uncle to Banjo, he loved his Wiwow and thank you for answering every single one of my calls when I needed advice or to shoot the breeze, you’re the bloody best.”
Sebastian Robinson, who had been piloting the helicopter at the time, sustained major spinal injuries in the crash, but survived.