Famed rally driver and "guy on the box" Colin McRae has been killed in a helicopter crash.
McRae was best known to gamers for the popular Colin McRae Rally series of games developed by Codemasters. First released in 1998 for the PC and PlayStation, the series eventually grew to include versions for all major consoles as well as the N-Gage and Game Boy Advance. While never a huge hit in North America, where rally remains relatively unknown, the series has been very successful in Europe and other parts of the world, and is widely regarded as both the first and the best realistic rally simulator. The most recent addition to the series, Colin McRae: DiRT (called simply DiRT in North America) was released in June for the PC and Xbox 360.
Also killed in the crash were McRae's 5-year-old son Johnny, 6-year-old friend Ben Porcelli and 37-year-old Graeme Duncan, a close friend. McRae was 39.
A statement released by Codemasters read, "Everyone at Codemasters, especially those who worked directly with Colin McRae, is deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic events of this weekend.
"The loss of Colin McRae is deeply distressing. That it involved his son and another so young makes it even more tragic. Our thoughts are with his family and those closest to him and we share in their pain.
"For over ten years, Colin was part of the Codemasters family and it was a privilege to have a man recognized as a true legend on the team. He always took a keen interest in the game experience, wanting to make sure it was without equal in its portrayal of the sport.
"His contribution was inspirational and brought his technical expertise and passion for rally driving to each and every McRae game. Through the popularity of those games, he brought a whole new audience to the sport itself.
"Codemasters' relationship with Colin began through Jim, David and Richard Darling and their condolences, along with ours, are passed to Colin's family. We are heavy of heart at his passing but we are also brimming with pride at knowing him and to have played a small role in his life.
"He will never be forgotten by all at Codemasters."
A brief memorial including a link to express condolences to the family has been posted at colinmcrae.com.