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13 Tragic Accidents That Happened On Sets Of Film Productions

Movies are expensive million-dollar productions.

Movie making is a risky business. It always begins with a financial risk, and sometimes the script calls for necessary, calculated risks to take place on set or on location. Stunts, pyrotechnics, firefights: these are just a few things that bring with them an inherent risk when playing big-budget make-believe.

With thousands of things that need to be in place, it’s not uncommon for accidents to happen. Throughout the history of filmmaking, there have been more than a few mistakes on set. A few misplaced items, some car stunts going wrong, or sometimes someone might even get killed. That’s when an accident becomes a tragedy.

Sometimes, these tragedies become high-profile cases, often because it involves a member of the cast. We’re all aware of the accidental shooting of would-be A-lister Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee on the set of The Crow.

Source: Miramax / Courtesy Everett Collection

Or of course, more recently with the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin on the set of Rust.

Source: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

However, there are even more tragedies that didn’t involve the names in the forefront of a film, and these stories often get overlooked or ignored by the media. Here are some you may not have known about:

#1 Cinematographer Chan Kwok-hung was killed on the film set of the Jackie Chan film Skiptrace (2016) after a boat capsized.

Source: Saban Int’l / ©Saban Int’l/Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Hong Kong police said the vessel flipped about a hundred feet away from shore, and most of the crew were able to swim back to the shore after the accident. Tragically, Chan Kwok-hung was not one of them. He was officially declared deceased in North Lantau Hospital.

Source: CCTV News

The Movie Production Executives Association at the time tried to raise money for Chan Kwok-hung’s family

Source: Saban Int’l / ©Saban Int’l/Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

#2 A Stuntman on F9 had to be put in a medically induced coma after a serious accident while filming.

Source: Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

After a serious accident during a stunt fall of 25 feet which fractured his skull and gave him brain damage, Joe Watts, Vin Diesel’s stunt double, had to be put in a hospital immediately, shutting down the production of the film as well.

He even had to learn to speak again after multiple rehabilitation sessions with various doctors and specialists.

Source: Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

#3 Mike Huber, a crew member working on G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) died while working on a high-powered scissor lift that tipped over.

Source: Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

The unidentified worker was using a scissor lift to dismantle a set when, according to reports, the giant machine tipped over and the man suffered fatal injuries.

Source: Construction Photography / Getty Images

Paramount Studios has given condolences to the crew member’s family in a public statement.

Source: Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

#4 An unnamed construction worker was killed working on Blade Runner 2049 (2017) while dismantling a set.

Source: Courtesy Of Warner Bros. Pictures / ©Warner Bros / courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

A Hungarian construction worker was killed on the set of Blade Runner 2049 while it was being filmed in Budapest. He was underneath a platform when the set suddenly collapsed on top of him.

Source: Stephen Vaughan / Warner Bros / courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

He was not part of the film crew but was employed by a subcontractor.

Source: Warner Bros.

His name so far has not been publicized.

Source: Warner Bros.

#5 Another unnamed construction worker was killed on the set of Silence (2016) after a structure collapse.

Source: Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

The accident happened in Taiwan. A structure on the set collapsed, killing 1 person and injuring another 2. Both of the injured were rushed to the hospital, with one of them in serious condition.

Source: Tpg / Getty Images

The production team was held responsible for the incident.

Source: Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

#6 Gabriella Cedillo, an extra on the film Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), was permanently brain damaged after a stunt car accident.

Source: Chicago Tribune / Tribune News Service via Getty Images, Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

The car she was driving in a Transformers 3 scene was struck by a piece of metal.

Source: Chicago Tribune / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

It was attached to a tow cable to flip a stunt car. Instead, the metal bar broke free, and it smashed through the windshield as you can see here, and pierced right into her head.

Source: Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

She has since received 18.5 million in settlement money.

Source: 20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

#7 David Ritche, a set dresser for Jumper (2008) was crushed and killed by sand, earth, and ice

Source: 20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

56 at the time, a veteran of his profession, Ritchie was killed, and another man suffered serious injuries. An investigation was conducted and it was concluded that the sand and earth became unstuck from the wall and crushed Ritchie.

Source: 20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

A film company in Vancouver was fined 250,000 dollars for his death.

Source: @oliviathebandit

#8 Olivia Jackson, a stuntwoman, needed to have her arm amputated after being seriously injured on the set of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

Source: @oliviathebandit

While standing in for Mila Jovovich for a high-speed motorcycle stunt, Jackson crashed into a crane-mounted camera. After a 17-day coma, her left arm had to be amputated. She also suffered various other injuries, including a twisted spine and partial paralysis.

Source: Screen Gems / Courtesy Everett Collection

Though she won the lawsuit after a 4-year legal battle, her victory was bittersweet as according to South African law, the medical compensation for medical expenses has a cap, which could be at less than 15 thousand dollars a year.

Source: Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

#9 Harry O’Connor, a former Navy SEAL and one of Vin Diesel’s stunt doubles in XXX (2002), died while performing a paragliding stunt for the film.

Source: Columbia Pictures

While filming a paragliding scene in Prague, the man collided with a pillar of the Palacky Bridge, fatally breaking his neck. The accident occurred on O’Connor’s second take of the stunt; his first take was successful and can be seen in the 2002 film.

Source: Columbia Pictures / ©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Rob Cohen, the film’s director claimed that out of the 500 stuntment involved in the film, O’Connor was the only one who suffered any harm.

Source: David Goldman / AP

#10 Sarah Jones, a camera assistant on the film Midnight Rider (which remains unreleased) was struck and killed by a train on set.

Source: ABC NEWS / Via youtube.com

Jones was struck and killed by a train in Wayne County, Georgia, while the Gregg Allman biopic she was working on was filming a sequence involving the tracks. The train came and the crew all evacuated. A prop bed remained on the tracks and when the train collided, the bed pushed Jones into the direction of the train and she was hit by the train’s fuel tank, dying instantly.

Source: David Mcnew / Getty Images

Director Randall Miller pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and served jail time.

Source: @sj24_sidewayz

#11 Joi “SJ” Harris was killed while performing a stunt on a motorcycle for the film Deadpool 2 (2018).

Source: ABC / Via youtube.com

Harris was killed while performing a stunt that involved riding a high-powered Ducati motorcycle down a ramp laid atop a set of stairs. Harris was not properly prepared for the stunt according to multiple people. When it came time to do the scene, Harris lost control while riding the bike down the stairs. The bike hurled her into a building across the street and killed her instantly.

Source: Twitter: @VancityReynolds

Ryan Reynolds’s statement about the accident can be seen here.

Source: @davidholmes83

#12 David Holmes, a stunt double for Daniel Radcliffe, broke his neck and became paralyzed from the chest down while working on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010).

Source: Warner Bros.

A planned explosion hurled him plummeting to the ground and left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Source: @davidholmes83

#13 Michael Davidson, a firefighter in New York City, died while battling a fire that broke out on the set of Motherless Brooklyn (2019).

Source: Twitter: @NYPDnews

Michael Davidson’s air tank ran out while he was in a fire after he was separated from his fellow firefighters. The investigation found that the plywood walls made for the set masked the true size of the fire, and the foam used in the sets was what created large quantities of black smoke.

Source: Eyewitness News ABC7NY / Via youtube.com

In 2020, a judge ruled that Davidson’s widow, Eileen Davidson, has the power to file a lawsuit against film company Class 5, Inc. (Edward Norton’s production company), as well as the building landlord.

Source: Glen Wilson / Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

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