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Halyna Hutchins Killed, Joel Souza Injured In Accident With Prop Gun On The Movie Set For ‘Rust’ In New Mexico

Halyna Hutchins Killed, Joel Souza Injured In Accident After Alec Baldwin Shot Prop Gun At The Movie Set For ‘Rust

Halyna Hutchins Killed, Joel Souza Injured After Being Hit By Bullet From Prop Gun Fired By Alec Baldwin

SANTA FE COUNTY, NEW MEXICO (October 22, 2021) – Actor and producer Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the movie set for ‘Rust‘ that killed the film’s director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and injured the director Joel Souza.

Santa Fe County police officials are saying that the accident took place on Thursday, October 21st while Rust was being filmed. Alec Baldwin is an actor as well as producer for the film.

During one of the scenes he fired a prop gun which launched a live round. That round struck Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza.

GLK’s Jeff Korek discusses Who’s Capable in the tragic ‘Rust’ shooting with Shep Smith on CNBC

A medical helicopter and ambulance were called to the scene of the shooting in order to help both of the victims. Halyna Hutchins was taken to The University of New Mexico Hospital in a medical helicopter.

Despite the best efforts of doctors, she die due to her injuries. Friends and colleagues described her as a ray of light with immense talent. Joel Souza was taken in an ambulance to the hospital with serious injuries.

Alec Baldwin was questioned by police officials and was visibly distraught by what happened. The LA Times is reporting that the prop gun misfired just days before the fatal shooting. In fact, camera crew previously walked off set due to unsafe working conditions.

This accident comes just a few years after two people died  in a Columbia plane crash during a Tom Cruise movie shoot for ‘American Made.’ Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. represented the family of Carlos Berl who was killed in that crash.

Jeff Korek was one of the lead trial lawyers for that case. A lawsuit was brought against producers Imagine Entertainment, Vendian Entertainment and Cross Creek Pictures for wrongful death. Korek and the other senior law partners alleged that the production and aviation companies involved in the crash ignored safety standards to wrap up filming quickly and save money.

An official for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that the flight in question, and other flights during production, may have been performed illegally. After an extensive legal battle, Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. was able to secure a confidential settlement on behalf of the family of Carlos Berl.

In both the plane crash that killed Carlos Berl and the prop gun accident that killed Halyna Hutchins, there appear to have been serious lapses in safety protocols.

Liability In Movie Industry Prop Gun Accidents

Nearly all serious injury and fatal accidents on movie sets are due to safety lapses. Those safety lapses are nearly always tied to cost cutting measures. The movie industry is a difficult industry to be in. Many movies flop. A film studio’s only hope to turn a profit is to have a big hit every now and again. Studios often cut their losses by cutting corners where they can. But far too often these cost cutting measures involve ignoring safety standards.

  • Actors might not get the proper training to stay safe.
  • Stunt workers may not get the equipment they need to be safe.
  • Prop masters may not thoroughly vet props that are being used.
  • Film crew may not get the certifications they need to handle vehicles or equipment.

Fatal accidents with prop guns are extremely rare, but not unheard of. Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon Lee, was the last accidental death caused by a prop gun in 1993. Prop masters are typically the people who are responsible for keeping actors and film crew safe when props are used in films. Accidents are extremely rare because there are so many different policies and procedures in place. But when those policies are not followed, that’s when serious accidents tend to happen.

Depending on the specific facts of any case, there could be numerous sources of liability for a movie set accident. For example, a production company could be liable for an accident if they decreased the level of safety precautions prior to an accident. Making movies can be dangerous and actors and stunt people assume a certain level of risk. But production companies are never allowed to make stunts or sets that are unreasonably dangerous.

The company that a prop master worked for could also be liable for an accident. The prop master for any movie set is responsible for all of the props that actors use during the course of filming. They have a legal responsibility to monitor all props for safety. This includes handling all firearms used on set. In certain cases, however, production companies will hire a weapons expert who will do the same thing. There are a number of safety protocols that must be observed to prevent actors from being injured by guns.

  • Before each use, a gun must be test-fired offstage.
  • The prop master or weapons expert must check the cylinders and barrels for foreign objects. Even if a gun is firing blanks, foreign objects in the chamber can become lethal projectiles.
  • All loading of firearms must be done by the prop master or weapons expert or an experienced person working under their direct supervision.
  • Blanks must not be loaded until the very last minute.

The family of any victim that is killed by a prop gun may be able to seek damages through a wrongful death claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. Sadly, though, production companies will fight extremely hard to deny responsibility for an accident. It is important that evidence is properly collected after any incident. A wrongful death attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your rights are.

Investigating A Movie Industry Prop Gun Accident

We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Halyna Hutchins. It is clear from those that knew her that she was a lovely spirit and a rising star in the film industry. It is our sincere hope that Joel Souza is able to make a full recovery. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened.

This incident raises a number of safety questions. Who allegedly loaded the live round into the gun used on set? Was there a prop master or weapons expert on set? Were all safety protocols being followed? It’s been nearly 30 years since anyone has died in an accident with a prop gun. This has been made possible due to all of the protocols and regulations designed to keep film crew safe. When production companies put profits ahead of safety, that’s when accidents tend to happen.

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