After just finishing a show at the Alpine Valley resort in Wisconsin, Vaughan boarded the helicopter that was reserved for his elder brother Jimmie, his wife Connie and 42-year-old veteran pilot Jeff Brown. When they stepped aboard, three seats had already been filled by Eric Clapton’s crew: agent Bobby Brooks, bodyguard Nigel Browne, and assistant tour manager Colin Smythe.
Vaughan’s brother and his wife left the helicopter and took a different flight home, ultimately saving their lives. Vaughan took the remaining seat.
The weather was becoming hazardous and dew was setting on the windshield. The fog was heavy and then, at 1 a.m., just 0.6 miles from takeoff, the helicopter crashed into a 300-foot ski slop. The crash was blamed on the limited visibility. Everyone on board died instantly.
No one knew of the crash until 7 a.m. the next morning. Vaughan’s brother Jimmie was called to identify the bodies, along with Eric Clapton.
Vaughan was 35 years-old.