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From The Crow to Rust , a History of Hollywood's Tragic On-Set Accidents

·4-min read
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Alamy

With Hollywood reeling from news of the fatal accident on the New Mexico set of the Alec Baldwin film Rust –– in which cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was seriously injured –– it is tragically not the first time the safety of cast and crew have been put in jeopardy.

Here is a brief history of filming gone wrong in Hollywood:

THE CROW (1994)

One of the most famous on-set tragedies occurred in 1993 during the filming of The Crow, in which star Brandon Lee was killed when another actor shot him using a gun that was supposed to have only been loaded with blanks. According to history.com, "police later found that a .44 bullet entered Lee's abdomen and lodged in his spine, fatally wounding him." A number of weeks later, an investigation into the accident found that the crew was negligent, but the District Attorney eventually declined to bring charges against the production company making the movie.

MIDNIGHT RIDER (2014)

During the filming of Midnight Rider: The Gregg Allman Story on a live railroad track in 2014, camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed by an oncoming train. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the crew quickly tried to remove their gear from the tracks when they heard the train come hurtling toward them, but as it approached a piece of debris propelled Jones back into the train's path, killing her instantly. She was 27. Director Randall Miller served one year in jail after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was released on probation in 2016, Deadline reported.

RELATED: Cinematographer Killed, Director Joel Souza Injured After Alec Baldwin Misfires Prop Gun

RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER (2017)

The 2017 entry in the Milla Jovovich franchise was met with not one serious accident, but two. First, Jovovich's stunt double Olivia Jackson was severely injured and lost her left arm during a motorcycle stunt, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. Two months later, Jackson's colleague Ricardo Cornelius was killed on the same set, when an unsecured Humvee slid off of a platform and crushed him. THR went on to investigate those and other accidents to beleaguer the Resident Evil franchise.

THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)

While Christopher Nolan's Batman sequel is heavily associated with the death of star Heath Ledger, which occurred months after filming wrapped, stuntman Conway Wickliffe was killed during production. Wickliffe, who also performed stunts in 2005's Batman Begins, was leaning out the window of a Nissan 4x4 operating a camera when the car crashed into a tree, leading to severe head trauma, according to The Guardian. The stuntman, 41, was pronounced dead at the scene at Longcross near Chertsey, Surrey, England.

XXX (2002)

Vin Diesel's elaborate action movie xXx lost one of its crewmembers –– Diesel's stunt double Harry O'Connor –– when he died filming a scene involving paragliding. After O'Connor, a former Navy SEAL, successfully completed the first take, he collided with the Palacky Bridge in Prague and broke his neck, per Newsweek. The film's director Rob Cohen later released a statement saying: "We had 500 stuntmen involved with this picture; 499 didn't get a scratch. It shows you the lengths to which we will go to bring this kind of intense experience to the viewer. Stuntmen know they are in danger. They make their living through danger. Most of the time, it's all right. Sometimes, unfortunately, it isn't."

RELATED: Alec Baldwin Fired Prop Gun That Killed Cinematographer, Injured Director Joel Souza on Rust Movie Set

TOP GUN (1986)

Tom Cruise's iconic '80s movie Top Gun sadly claimed the life of stunt pilot Art Scholl, whose plane (called a Pitts Special) plunged into the Pacific Ocean five miles off the coast of Encinitas, California, as reported by the LA Times. While performing an inverted spin in the plane, in order to capture upside-down aerial photography, Scholl's aircraft was unable to maintain altitude and his last words reportedly were, "I've got a problem here." The Coast Guard recovered debris from the plane, but Scholl's body was never found.

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TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983)

Another very famous on-set tragedy occurred in 1982, during the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie, when a helicopter crash killed actor Vic Morrow and two children in Santa Clarita, California. Morrow and the children were filming a scene involving explosions, after which debris from the stunt rose 100 feet in the air and damaged the helicopter's rotors, according to The Associated Press. Five people, including director John Landis, faced charges of involuntary manslaughter but were eventually acquitted.

COVER UP (1984)

Jon-Erik Hexum portrayed Mac Harper, an undercover CIA officer posing as a male model, for the television series Cover Up in 1984. While filming the series' seventh episode, Hexum — just 26 — was pretending to play Russian roulette when he fired a prop gun at his head on-set. Though it was loaded with blanks, the force of the explosion fractured his scull, and bone fragments caused hemorrhaging in his brain. Hexum underwent surgery but was eventually was declared brain dead.

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