Biola Alum Filmmaker Narrowly Survives Plane Crash

Biola Community Prays for Alum and Crew

Aug. 3, 2009 By Jenna Bartlo

Alum Dan Parris on a shuttle at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Parris discussed his documentary with other filmmakers at the festival.

On Saturday, August 1, 2009, Biola University alumnus Dan Parris (’09) narrowly survived a plane crash in Nairobi, Kenya along with two others — the pilot died on impact. Parris with three friends, Rob Lehr, and brothers Tim and David Peterka, have been working on a documentary on global poverty titled “Give A Damn?” Parris and Lehr contracted a small plane for aerial footage of Kibera, one of the world’s largest slums.

Since the plane only had two passenger seats, the Peterkas stayed behind. While in the air, the plane stalled and the pilot managed to glide the plane outside of the slum’s perimeter. According to David, as the pilot attempted to land in a street, one of the wings hit a telephone pole, then the side of a three-story apartment building, before crashing on the street below. Lehr escaped the plane and immediately returned to help unconscious Parris out of the plane. After ensuring Parris’ safety, Lehr went back to the plane that had already burst into flames and assisted in helping the unconscious electrical engineer out of the plane before being pulled back out of the wreckage himself and taken to the hospital with Parris. Locals were able to pull the electrical engineer from the plane.

In an email to “Give A Damn?” supporters, David wrote, “They [Parris and Lehr] are both doing incredibly well despite the circumstances and are expected to fully recover.  For me this is nothing short of a miraculous work of God. Thank you all again for your prayers and support.  We need them now more than ever.” 

The Biola community lifts Parris, Lehr, the electrical engineer who are all seriously injured, and the pilot’s family in prayer. Please pray for those injured, the pilot’s family, and the documentary, as the Peterka brothers will continue filming after Parris and Lehr return to the United States.

Learn more about Dan’s passion for those living in poverty and stay updated on Parris’ project “Give A Damn?” as they continue to impact the world and those they meet through their documentary here.

View what Parris’ documentary, “Give A Damn?” is all about.

Read an overview of the press coverage from the accident.

View Fox TV News Special Report on the crash.

Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at

[<Category: Alumni>]

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