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NEW YORK – Days after race car driver and TV personality Jessi Combs died tragically trying to break a speed record, the director and producer of her latest film project is speaking out on her death.
Thomas Smugala, who worked with the 39-year-old on the upcoming movie “Interviewing Monsters and Bigfoot,” spoke with Fox News about finding out about Combs’ shocking death and what it means for the upcoming film.
“This was her first feature film,” Smugala told us. “We are dedicating the film to Jessi. She was a good friend and a wonderful person. We are also in the process of putting her on the poster and cover art before the release of the film.”
JESSI COMBS, RACE CAR DRIVER AND TV HOST, DIES IN JET-CAR CRASH AT AGE 39
Combs’ first and final film is “Interviewing Monsters and Bigfoot.” (Thomas Smurgala )
“Everyone was telling me not to use a reality show celebrity on the film, but I knew she would handle it just fine,” Smugala shared. “I mean, all she had to do was a long dialog-filled scene while being chased by the law. Jessi and I agreed that shooting it while she was actually driving would be best. So, with the help of the Cape Girardeau, Missouri Police, we closed off the streets and did it. Jessi rose to the occasion just as I thought she would.”
Combs also devoted time to give “motivation talks” to young girls on the set, according to Smugala.
“Everyone loved her on set. The cops, the crew, the caterer — she took time to talk to everyone,” he recalled. “She was the kindest and [most] uplifting person in the world. She was fierce. She was giving. She was loyal. She will be missed by all.”
Combs died while attempting to break her own land-speed record on Tuesday in Oregon. The 39-year-old was attempting to hit 619 mph, according to Autoblog.
Combs died while attempting to break her own land-speed record on Tuesday in Oregon. (Thomas Smurgala )
Aside from racing, Combs also served as the co-host for “The List” along with stints on “Overhaulin’,” “Extreme 4×4,” “All Girls Garage and she appeared as a part-time host on “Mythbusters.”
JESSI COMBS’ FATAL CRASH UNDER INVESTIGATION: ‘THERE WAS A FIRE INVOLVED’
In a statement obtained by Autoblog, her family said, “It is with extreme grief, and in celebration of her life that her family and close friends share that race car driver, and TV personality Jessi Combs, passed away in a fatal crash, where she was pursuing a land speed record in the North American Eagle on August, 27th 2019 on a dry lake bed in Oregon.”
“Jessi was known for her bright smile, positivity, and tenacious pursuit of the fulfillment of her dreams,” the statement continues. “Her drive was infectious, and she served as a role model for young Girls, and Women around the world. People that loved her and followed her became family, all bonded together by adventure and passion. Her fans adored her, and she lived to inspire them. Jessi’s most notable dream was to become the fastest woman on Earth, a dream she had been chasing since 2012. Combs was one of the rare dreamers with the bravery to turn those possibilities into reality, and she left this earth driving faster than any other woman in history.”
Combs’ partner, Terry Madden, honored her on social media.
“I have never loved or been loved by anyone as much as this amazing woman @thejessicombs she was truly my unicorn and I enjoyed every single minute that I had with her. She was the most amazing spirit that I have ever or will ever know,” he wrote.
JESSI COMBS’ FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES REACT TO HER DEATH: ‘SHE LOST HER LIFE DOING WHAT SHE LOVED’
Her accident is now being investigated by authorities.
On Wednesday, Lt. Brian Needham of the Harney County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that authorities are trying to recover laptops onboard the jet car (a race car propelled by jet engine). The computers said to be aboard Combs’ vehicle, the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger, may hold additional keys for investigators.
According to Oregon police, her accident is now being investigated by authorities. (Thomas Smurgala )
“They’re waiting for the team to recover the [engine and systems] information stored on the inboard computers,” Needham told the New York Post.
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The law enforcement officer also said that “there was a fire involved” but did not elaborate.
“Interviewing Monster and Bigfoot” premieres on Sept. 13.
Fox News’ Michael Hollan, Janine Puhak and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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