Daredevil Mike Hughes Killed In Homemade Rocket Crash

Science Channel/Twitter Mercedes Blackehart/AP

“Mad” Mike Hughes was killed Saturday (February 22) when the homemade rocket he was riding in crashed to the ground following a launch gone wrong. He was 64.

The crash occurred when the ladder Hughes used to enter the cockpit struck the rocket upon launch.

“It ripped off a parachute can, which deployed the parachute, which got caught in the thrust of the rocket and kind of took the rocket off course a little bit,” said Justin Chapman, a freelance journalist who witnessed the launch and eventual crash.

The launch was captured on video and shows the parachute falling to the ground almost immediately after the steam-powered rocket took off. The rocket begins to wobble, did a huge arc, then crashed to the ground about a half mile away from the launch pad.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said deputies were called to a private property near Barstow, California, at 1:52 p.m. Saturday and pronounced a man deceased “after the rocket crashed in the open desert during a rocket launch event.”

Roughly 60 people were on hand to witness Hughes’ flight, including a camera crew from the Science Channel who were filming the event for a television show.