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Recent Accidents on TV and Movie Sets | tnewst.com Press "Enter" to skip to content

Recent Accidents on TV and Movie Sets

Behind the magic of movies and television are actors and props, crew members, stunt performers and a sometimes dangerous set of circumstances for the people filming scenes.

On Thursday, the potential danger on some sets made news around the world, after the actor Alec Baldwin discharged a gun that was used as a prop on the set of a western in New Mexico, killing the film’s director of photography and wounding the movie’s director.

The authorities said the shooting took place in the middle of a scene that was either being rehearsed or filmed. Many other details of what happened remained unclear on Friday.

Accidents on movie and television sets, like stuntmen and stuntwomen being injured during action sequences or actors getting killed when props malfunction, have occurred with some regularity over the last several decades. There have been at least 194 serious television- and film-set accidents in the United States from 1990 to 2014, and at least 43 deaths, according to The Associated Press.

Here’s a partial list of set accidents from recent history.

A helicopter crash on the Los Angeles set of the “Twilight Zone” movie killed the actor Vic Morrow and two child actors, Renee Shinn Chen and My-ca Dinh Lee, in July 1982.

The tail rotor of the helicopter was hit by debris from explosives detonated in a scene depicting the Vietnam War. The main rotor of the helicopter struck and killed Mr. Morrow and the children as the aircraft pitched into a river on the set.

The film’s director, John Landis, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the deaths, as were with four other members of the film crew, including the helicopter pilot. After a trial that lasted nearly a year and nine days of deliberation by a jury, all five were acquitted in May 1987. In the aftermath of the accident, the Directors Guild of America created a safety committee to put in place safety guidelines.

Mr. Hexum, 26, had loaded three empty cartridges and two gunpowder-filled blanks into a high-powered handgun before firing the gun, according to a detective on the case.

Mr. Hexum sustained a fractured skull and underwent five hours of surgery. He died several days later. The police ruled the shooting an accident.

Brandon Lee, an actor and the son of the martial-arts star Bruce Lee, died in March 1993 during the filming of “The Crow,” after being shot at with a gun that was supposed to fire blank cartridges.

The tip of a .44-caliber bullet had become lodged in the gun’s barrel in filming a close-up scene, and dislodged when a blank cartridge was fired. The bullet pierced Mr. Lee’s abdomen, damaging several organs and lodging in his spine.

Mr. Lee, 28, was the star of the film, about a rock musician who is killed by a street gang and then comes back to life with supernatural powers.

An executive producer of the movie said at the time that when a blank is fired, a piece of soft wadding normally comes out of the gun, but in this instance, a metallic projectile came out. A police investigation into the shooting found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and no charges were filed.

Sarah Jones, a camera assistant, died on the set of the independent film “Midnight Rider,” about the musician Gregg Allman, in Georgia in February 2014. Ms. Jones was killed while helping prepare a shot that involved placing a bed across the tracks of a CSX railroad line.

After two trains passed, crew members on the film believed they would have a safe interval to get the shot, part of a planned dream sequence. But a third train appeared, moving at high speed through the set, killing Ms. Jones and injuring others.

Later that year, the family of Ms. Jones reached a settlement with 11 defendants in a lawsuit over her death. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. In 2015, the film’s director, Randall Miller, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and served a year in jail. He was also sentenced to 10 years of probation.

Olivia Jackson, a stuntwoman for the actor Milla Jovovich, was severely injured while filming a sequence for “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” in South Africa in September 2015. While riding a motorcycle, Ms. Jackson collided with a piece of camera equipment, according to Deadline.

The accident nearly killed Ms. Jackson, leaving her with multiple injuries including disfigurement, several nerves torn out of her spinal cord and a partly amputated left arm.

In April 2020, the High Court in South Africa ruled in favor of Ms. Jackson and against a company involved in the movie.

Two months after Ms. Jackson was injured, another crew member, Ricardo Cornelius, died after a Humvee slid off a rotating platform and crushed him against a wall, Deadline reported.

John Bernecker, a stuntman for AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” died in July 2017 after falling on a balcony set in Georgia.

Mr. Bernecker, who had been an active stuntman since at least 2009 and had appeared in films such as “Get Out” and “The Fate of the Furious,” died of blunt-force trauma, a coroner said. Production of the show’s eighth season was temporarily shut down after the accident.

Mr. Bernecker’s family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in early 2018 against AMC Networks, the production company Stalwart Films and other parties in Georgia, claiming they had failed to make the show with appropriate safety measures. The suit claimed that some fall protection was in place but that airbags and spotters were not used, and that the padding did not fully cover the area below the fall. Mr. Bernecker landed on his head or shoulder area.

In December 2019, a jury found AMC Networks not to be negligent but awarded more than $8 million in civil damages. The Georgia Court of Appeals overturned the decision in March 2021.

Ms. Harris, 40, had worked as a motorcycle racer before joining the crew of the film, and was serving as a stunt double for the actor Zazie Beetz.

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