Country star Troy Gentry killed in New Jersey helicopter crash

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The crash was reported after 1 p.m. Friday at the Flying W Airport and Resort on Fostertown in Medford, Burlington County.

Troy Gentry, one half of the award-winning country music duo Montgomery Gentry, died Friday in a helicopter crash just hours before a concert, according to a statement from the band's website. He was 50.

Authorities said the helicopter crashed in a wooded area while approaching the Flying W Airport in Medford hours before Montgomery Gentry was due to perform at a resort that is also housed at the airport.

The band's website called Gentry's death "tragic" and said details of the crash are unknown.

"Troy Gentry's family wishes to acknowledge all of the kind thoughts and prayers, and asks for privacy at this time," the website said.

Police got a call at around 1 p.m. of a helicopter that was in distress, said Joel Bewley, a spokesman for the Burlington County prosecutor's office.

Authorities said crews were able to remove Gentry, the passenger, from the wreckage, but he died on the way to a hospital. The pilot died at the scene, and crews were working to remove his body, Bewley said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is headed to the crash scene, Bewley said.

Gentry was born on April 5, 1967 in Lexington, Kentucky, where he met bandmate Eddie Montgomery, known for his signature hat. Later, they formed a group based off their last names.

Montgomery Gentry had success on the country charts and country radio in the 2000s, scoring No. 1 hits with "Roll With Me," "Back When I Knew It All," "Lucky Man," "Something to Be Proud Of" and "If You Ever Stop Loving Me." Some of the songs even cracked the Top 40 of the pop charts.

The band mixed country music with Southern rock and was known for their blue-collar anthems. They were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009 and into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

Montgomery Gentry released their debut album, the platinum-seller "Tattoos & Scars," in 1999. Two of their albums, "My Town" and "You Do Your Thing," also achieved platinum status, while several of their albums were gold successes.

"We didn't want to be an overnight success like acts that have one or two hits and then go away. We wanted the longevity like Waylon, Willie, Charlie, Cash, Kristofferson. All those cats; and they weren't about No. 1 hits all the time," Gentry said in a quote from the band's website biography. "They had enough success with their music to be appreciated, to be able to play as long as they wanted to, and they did it the way they wanted to."

Several country singers wrote touching words on social media about Gentry's death on Friday, the same day country singer Don Williams died. Randy Houser called Friday a "sad day in country music," while Brad Paisley tweeted: "God bless you Troy Gentry. Heartbroken and in disbelief."

Montgomery Gentry's latest album was 2015's "Folks Like Us." It featured the song "Two Old Friends," which describes the longstanding bond between Montgomery and Gentry.

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(Copyright ©2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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