RAPID CITY, S.D.—One of three men who were killed when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed as they filmed a reality show in the Los Angeles area got his start as a Hollywood cameraman in South Dakota.

Darren Rydstrom, 46, of Whittier, Calif., liked to shoot photographs at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and he met a film crew and director there who helped him get started in the industry, his mother, Jeri Rydstrom, of Rapid City, told the Rapid City Journal ( http://bit.ly/V3bNi2).

"His first job in California was with them," she said. "He traveled all over the world—he's done feature-length movies, television shows, commercials. And he got awards for his work in a cut-throat business like that. I couldn't have been more proud of him."

Jeri Rydstrom said her son called her before heading out Saturday night to wish her a happy birthday. He and two others were killed when the helicopter crashed early Sunday. The cause was not immediately determined.

Darren Rydstrom returned several times a year to visit family still living in Rapid City, including his parents and a sister.

"He was last back in November to go pheasant hunting with me," Jeri Rydstrom said. 

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com