Sadly, there have been plenty of stunt performers who have either been injured or who have even died while on the job. From freak accidents to bad preparation, stunt performers are always putting themselves in danger in order to get the job done.
Stunt performers wear many hats. They can be pilots, racers, or just some crazy, real-life action heroes. Either way, a stunt performer brings a lot to whatever show or movie they are working on. Without them, movies and shows wouldn’t feel as real. No amount of digital special effects can even come close to replacing the work that stunt performers do.
Unfortunately, Hollywood isn’t the best at protecting their stunt performers. Out of almost everyone on set, stunt performers are the most neglected. They are expected to get the job done, no matter how difficult or dangerous a stunt might be. That’s how the job seems to work. It’s also why plenty of producers and production companies have been sued over the years for misusing stunt performers.
While there have been plenty of stunt performers who have been injured or who have died in the past, there’s still so many more who have had unfortunate accidents on set too.
Here are the 15 More Times Stunt Performers Who Were Seriously Injured Or Died On Set.
15. A Stuntwoman/Racer Was Killed After Losing Control Of Her Motorcycle – Deadpool 2
You might have heard the recent and sad news about the death of racer and stuntwoman named S. J. Harris who was tragically killed on the set of Deadpool 2. The film, which is set to hit theaters in 2018, was using S. J. Harris as a stunt performer, as she is an acclaimed professional racer.
However, Harris had never been on a film set before. This was her first time working as a stunt performer. She was working as the stunt double for Zazie Beetz, who portrays Domino in the film.
The scene appeared to be fairly simple, but it was not. Sadly, Harries ended up dying when her motorcycle crashed after the first take. This caused a major outrage from the stunt performer community.
Many stunt performers believe that Harris’ death could have been avoided and that she was only hired due to her race and gender. She was actually the replacement for another stunt performer who wasn’t getting the job done. Her lack of experience and the pressure that production put on her to do well are seen as the ultimate reasons for her unfortunate death.
14. A Stuntman Fell More Than 20 Feet Off A Balcony Onto A Concrete Floor – The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has been making headlines recently, but earlier this summer, the reasons for those headlines were rather grim. Stuntman John Bernecker died after falling over twenty feet to his death on set. He was only 33 years old.
A lot of speculation surrounded Bernecker’s death, as the stunt should have been an easy one for him. It was nothing extravagant or mind blowing in the eyes of a stunt performer, and was supposed to be pretty simple. Yet, there were issues and questions revolving around why there was no air bag on the ground and why it took way longer than it should for emergency vehicles to arrive on set.
This was in no way Bernecker’s first stunt. In fact, he had 93 different stunt credits to his name at the time of his death. While production stopped for a little while, it resumed before Bernecker’s case was truly understood.
13. A Stuntman Struck His Head During A Chase Scene – Exit Wounds
In the 2001 film Exit Wounds, a stuntman named Chris Lamon hit his head during a chase scene. Although he initially survived the accident, he ended up passing away due to his injuries six days afterwards. He was 35 years old and had been working in the stunt business for almost 15 years.
The stunt was supposed to involve Lamon leaping out of the back of a van while it was upside down. According to upper management at Warner Brothers Studio at the the time, Lamon “landed badly and hit his head on the pavement.” He ended up fracturing his skull and died from that injury.
12. A Stunt Pilot Was Injured After A Dressed Up Japanese Fighter Plane Crashed – Pearl Harbor
A stunt pilot who was flying a fighter plane ended up crashing his plane on the set of the war film Pearl Harbor in 2000. The plane, one of many and meant to be used during the infamous moment in Hawaii, crashed on the Ford Island airstrip, the same place that the real life attack on Pearl Harbor occurred.
While the pilot was severely injured, he did not pass away from his wounds. His name is unknown, but he was a trained professional.
The plane ended up running into part of a palm tree on the island that caused the plane to malfunction. The plane was one of the 20 planes that were meant to look like Japanese warplanes for the film. The stunt pilot was taken to the hospital and then later released.
11. A Stunt Double Died After Falling Onto a Defective Airbag – Love Serenade
In the 1996 film Love Serenade, a stunt double named Colin Dragsbaek passed away after he fell onto a defective Paradynamics airbag from a high distance. His death caused an uproar from those in the stunt performance business.
Producers were legally blamed as they “did not ensure adequate safety standards” while on set. This caused a change in history, as more safety harnesses started being used. This also led to more dangerous stunts being created by digital special effects.
Stunt performers have been around for quite a long time in the movie and television business. That being said, they haven’t always had the best safety guidelines to go by. Also, stunt performers tend to be daredevils themselves, so they, of course, love doing dangerous stunts.
10. A Stuntman Died After Failing To Open A Parachute – The Right Stuff
The Right Stuff is a a film about the original Mercury 7 astronauts. The film might potentially be getting a television spinoff, but back in the day, it was talked about because of a gruesome stuntman death.
Stuntman Joseph Leonard Svec was in the middle of being ejected high into the air when a smoke canister, strapped to his helmet, caused him to lose consciousness. This ended up causing a huge problem and ultimately led to his death.
Svec needed to be conscious in order to open up his parachute that was supposed to safely bring him back to the ground. However, since Svec was unconscious he was unable to do this. Svec ended up falling to his death in a freak accident that nobody saw coming.
9. A Stuntman Suffered Severe Head Injuries After A Car Crash Scene – Blues Brothers 2000
In 1998, Blues Brothers 2000 hit theaters. It was a film that brought together the old gang. However, one particular stunt gone wrong caused some major drama on set.
Stuntman Bob Minor was an important member of a car crash scene in the film. Sadly, the crash didn’t go as planned and he became severely injured. Another crew member also had to have their leg amputated after the accident.
Thankfully, Minor survived. While he ended up having major head injuries, he at least made it out alive. Mixed reports say that the accident happened during the scene, while other reports state that it happened during an off moment. Either way, it was a scary, life changing accident that impacted the whole film crew.
8. A Stunt Double Died After Falling From A Building Onto a Split Airbag – Steel
Stunt double, A.J. Bakunas, fell from the top of a building to his death in the 1979 film, Steel. Since the film was based around a construction site, the movie was filmed on the scene of an unfinished building. Ironically, the film is about a man who is scared of heights after a construction accident causes him serious injury.
Bakunas was a pro in Hollywood. At the time, he was filming the death scene of someone after they fall off the building. He had already completed the fall from the 9th story of the building, but he wanted to break the record of another stunt performer who had fallen from a greater distance. Bakunas decided to fall from the top of the building, but unfortunately, no one was prepared for it.
Of course, things didn’t end up going well. Bakunas began his fall and landed on the air bag that had ruptured due to the impact. Incredibly, Bakunas was still alive and conscious after the accident. Sadly though, he ended up passing away due to his injuries the following day.
7. A Stuntman Broke His Jaw After a Surf Scene – Point Break
During the 2015 remake of the cult classic film,Point Break, real surfers were used as stunt performers. Since the movie was mostly filmed out on the ocean water, it’s surprising that there was only one serious injury.
Laurie Towner is a very well-known surfer from Australia. His entire life is about surfing and he regularly competes. However, performing stunts for a film was a whole different experience.
While working as a stunt double, Towner ended up breaking his jaw during the film. He also ended up with a bad case of whiplash and needed stitches on his eye and his lips. It was just a basic wipe out, but with all the added pressure of surfing for film, so it’s no wonder that Towner ended up hurt.
6. A Stuntman Was Killed After Falling 80 Feet – The Sword And The Sorcerer
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the 1981 film The Sword and the Sorcerer. A quirky film, it was all about swords, princess, and the conquering of land. Basically, your typical medieval film with ’80s special effects.
During the making of the film though, stuntman Jack Tyree was killed after he fell from 80 feet. The 30-by-15 foot airbag was perfectly fine, but Tyree didn’t end up landing on the air bag. Instead, he landed right beside it, only two feet away from the airbag itself.
Tyree was a seasoned pro in the business, as he had been working as a stunt performer for about ten years. He died from the massive injuries that he received from hitting the concrete at such a high speed.
5. A Stuntman Drowned After Becoming Trapped In A Car – The Squeeze
The 1987 film The Squeeze starred Michael Keaton and Rae Dawn Chong. The movie was about a con who meets a detective in a very typical story line. That’s about it. However, the film did call for a few different types of stunts.
Stunt performer Victor Magnotta was doing a stunt where he had to drive a car off a ramp into a body of water. It wasn’t too difficult of a seasoned stunt performer, however, there were a few malfunctions on set.
The ramp was only five feet high, so that wasn’t the problem. The issue was that Magnotta became locked inside the car and couldn’t get out. As the car began to sink in the water, Magnotta wasn’t able to escape. He ended up drowning while in the car.
4. A Stunt Pilot Died After A Plane Crash – American Made
Tom Cruise’s American Made hit theaters last month to many positive reviews. However, while production was still going on, producers were preoccupied by questions about their responsibility after a stunt pilot died on set.
Both stunt pilot Alan D. Purwin, along with his co-pilot, were killed after their airplane crashed. A third pilot was injured and can now no longer move his lower body. Family members of those who passed away blamed Tom Cruise for his negligence, saying that his desire to have a high-speed action movie led to the deaths of their loved ones.
All that being said, while the families are bringing forth a lawsuit, Tom Cruise is not considered a defendant. An executive producer did have to contact the insurance company before the flight scene due to Cruise adding extra scenes that weren’t originally in the script, though, which has caused some speculation.
3. A Stuntman Died After Debris From An Explosion Hit Him In The Head – The Crow: Stairway to Heaven
The Crow: Stairway To Heaven was a short-lived television show that ran from 1998 to 1999. The premise revolved around a musician who passed away and then came back to life. Of course, the show required numerous stunt performances.
During an episode, stuntman Mark Akerstream ended up being hit in the head by a giant piece of debris after there was a planned explosion on set. While he wasn’t instantly killed, his injuries caused his death after the incident.
The show was only at the beginning of filming– at episode six– at the time. While production ended up being suspended for a short period of time, the show continued, with filming and production starting back up directly after the short break.
2. A Stuntman Died After A Motorcycle Chase Where He Was Thrown Off A 40-Foot Cliff – Million Dollar Mystery
Million Dollar Mystery was its own type of film… even in 1986. It specifically premiered alongside a promotion for Glad bags. The movie was about a group of people at a diner trying to find millions of dollars. During the credits, audiences were told that they had actually hid a million dollars somewhere in America and it was their job to find it.
During the making of the film, motorcyclist and stunt performer Dar Allen Robinson died during a chase scene. Robinson was plunged off of a 40-foot cliff, falling to the ground. He didn’t die on impact, but his injuries did lead to his death while he was on the way to the hospital.
1. A Stuntman Was Attacked By A Shark That Was Supposed To Be Sedated – Shark!
Shark! starred an extremely young Burt Reynolds. The film was about what you’d think it was about: sharks attacking people. That being said, a shark really did attack a stuntman on set.
While shark attacks aren’t as common as most people think, sharks are still extremely dangerous animals and will occasionally attack humans. Sadly, that’s what happened to stuntman Jose Marco who was attacked by a shark that was supposed to be sedated.
The white shark ended up going straight for Marco. The film never got back on its feet after that and was seen as a horrendous failure. The on set death tarnished the film and it became more known for the accident than anything else.
Which stunt injury or death shocked you the most? Let us know in the comments section.
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