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Harrison Ford Could Have Died In Star Wars Set Incident, Court Hears (theguardian.com) 153

An anonymous reader writes: While filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Harrison Ford almost died when he was crushed by a hydraulic door on the set of the Millennium Falcon. He was reportedly knocked to the ground and crushed beneath the heavy door when he walked on to the set not believing it to be live. The 71-year-old actor suffered a broken left leg. Prosecutor Andrew Marshall said the door "could have killed somebody. The fact that it didn't was because an emergency stop was activated," he said. The company responsible, Foodles Production, pleaded guilty to two breaches under health and safety legislation, one count under section two of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which related to a breach of duty in relation to employees, and a second under section three, a breach over people not employed by the company. The lawyer for Foodles Production, which is owned by Disney, said the company would contest the level of risk involved on August 22nd at Aylesbury crown court.
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Harrison Ford Could Have Died In Star Wars Set Incident, Court Hears

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  • Not even the linked article claimed this.

    • "Andrew Marshall, prosecuting, said the breaches had caused a “risk of death” and that if the emergency stop had not been pressed in time, it could have been a very different outcome for Ford. “It could have killed somebody. The fact that it didn’t was because an emergency stop was activated,”

      • "Andrew Marshall, prosecuting, said the breaches had caused a “risk of death” and that if the emergency stop had not been pressed in time

        Why was there only a manual E-stop on it? Something that big and heavy should also have had hidden light curtains or other automated means of stopping it.
        • by tomhath ( 637240 )

          Something that big and heavy should also have had hidden light curtains or other automated means

          Gosh, you think? Maybe they should face criminal charges for not doing just that. Oh wait...they are.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      At least they didn't say he was 'mostly dead' and Mark Hamil brought him back with the Force and magic chocolate pill. Or am I mixing my movies!?!?! ;-)

    • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:28PM (#52585797)

      When a hydraulic actuator breaks your leg, it's entirely fair to say your life was in danger.

      • When a hydraulic actuator breaks your leg, it's entirely fair to say your life was in danger.

        If the R2 had wanted to kill him, he'd be dead. This was just a friendly little chat about... respect.

        And he still has his other kneecap. Just saying.

    • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @07:23PM (#52586391)
      Harrison Ford could have had a brain aneurysm on the set and died, but he didn't. He did however have a large piece of machinery crush his leg. Did this large piece of machinery "almost" crush more vital parts of his body? That depends on whatever your personal threshold for the word "almost" is. Given the proximity of the leg to vital organs in a human body, I don't have a problem with the phrase "almost died". I think I'd prefer "almost killed" because "almost died" seems to imply that he almost died from the injuries he did get, not from the injuries he almost got, but I think that's splitting hairs.
      • by Megol ( 3135005 )

        One can die of a broken leg, in fact it's not that unusual. One can die of a tiny cut but it is still very unusual - antibiotics still works in most cases.

        • Sure there are some broken legs that are life threatening. I was under the impression that the injury Harrison Ford actually suffered was not, even though the situation that caused his injury seems to have been.
    • Am I the only who is struck by this wording in the article?

      the door "could have killed somebody. The fact that it didn't was because an emergency stop was activated,"

      So, the door could have killed Deckard, but there was an "emergency stop" which apparently prevented his death, even though he was still injured.

      It sounds to me that although imperfect, the prop had safety features which prevented him from being killed.

      based on what little I know of the actual details, I'm going to say the prop company did their due diligence. Sometimes things can be dangerous, but there was an "emergency stop" which prevented his

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I assume Mr. Ford has not been around enough heavy equipment to that you consider it live unless you can see the lockout.

    • I'm sure the defense will raise this. All this article talks about is what the prosecution alleges.
      • by Shimbo ( 100005 )

        I'm sure the defense will raise this. All this article talks about is what the prosecution alleges.

        The defence probably didn't say a lot more than to enter a formal guilty plea. The prosecution just had to outline the severity of the case enough for the magistrate to refer it to a higher court for sentencing.

    • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:40PM (#52585863) Journal

      I assume Mr. Ford has not been around enough heavy equipment to that you consider it live unless you can see the lockout.

      This was a movie set. There's basically 2 overriding rules about safety on a movie set:
      * Don't depend on the actors to be smart enough, or paying enough attention, to get anything right.
      * There's no excuse for injuring an actor. That's just about the worst thing you can be responsible for.

      Everything potentially dangerous on a big-budget movie set is supposed to have a minder - both because the actors' full attention should be on their roles, and because it's a movie set, and dangerous-looking things are often props.

      From the (one-sided) summary, this was a massive fuckup, on the order of having a real gun mixed in with prop guns, or carelessness with pyro.

      • by Trogre ( 513942 )

        From the (one-sided) summary, this was a massive fuckup, on the order of having a real gun mixed in with prop guns, or carelessness with pyro.

        I hear that was a major problem when filming the X Men movies.

        I'll see myself out.

      • by dj245 ( 732906 )

        I assume Mr. Ford has not been around enough heavy equipment to that you consider it live unless you can see the lockout.

        This was a movie set. There's basically 2 overriding rules about safety on a movie set: * Don't depend on the actors to be smart enough, or paying enough attention, to get anything right. * There's no excuse for injuring an actor. That's just about the worst thing you can be responsible for.

        Everything potentially dangerous on a big-budget movie set is supposed to have a minder - both because the actors' full attention should be on their roles, and because it's a movie set, and dangerous-looking things are often props.

        From the (one-sided) summary, this was a massive fuckup, on the order of having a real gun mixed in with prop guns, or carelessness with pyro.

        Movie sets generally have a lot more accidents than "normal" industries. The deck is stacked with contributing factors such as-

        The work location changes often
        Safety-responsible crews often have a set building / movie background, rather than an industrial one
        Some OSHA regulations applicable to Construction/General Industry may not apply. Others are specifically excluded.
        Reliance on contractors and/or temp workers
        Most persons on the set do not have much industrial safety experience
        The primary purpos

        • Some OSHA regulations

          Not one OSHA regulation applies. this isn't America. We have standards which I- having worked with a number of American safety-responsible personnel - think are generally tighter. Those standards are designed by the Health And Safety Executuve and are enforced with the power of the criminal law. Directors of companies do get jailed for breaches on occasion, and HSE inspectors who achieve that are very happy to have achieved it.

      • I assume Mr. Ford has not been around enough heavy equipment to that you consider it live unless you can see the lockout.

        Harrison Ford was self-taught professional carpenter. [wikipedia.org] This was probably his best paying, consistent job as he was trying to make it in Hollywood as an actor. So you would think he would know about the potential dangers of machinery, but maybe he mostly used hand tools. Maybe he's gotten soft and careless.

        As a side note, it seems that with its emphasis on practical effects, real sets, and locations, that The Force Awakens was a dangerous film to work on. Mark Hamill almost fell to his death [dailymail.co.uk] off of the is

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          Most people lose situational awareness as they age. It's a common cause of serious injury.

    • That's not something they teach in high school. At least, not in the US.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The thing is that this isn't something anyone would ordinarily call 'heavy equipment.' How many elevators have you gone through? Automated doors? Drop-arm turnstiles? (The kind like saloon doors.) How many times have you once thought "I better make sure this has proper signage, clearance, procedure, and make sure I filled out a ISO 9000 before operating this equipment?"

      I bet this approaches zero.

      The problem here is that one has a reasonable expectation that an automated door will behave like every other aut

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      I assume you walk through no doors until they have been locked out? How do you mange to go to a store with all those automatic doors that aren't locked out while you travel through them?
  • heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @04:48PM (#52585511)

    The door shot first!

  • when he walked on to the set not believing it to be live

    You would think someone that's been around as long as he has would be aware that all systems should be treated as live until verified otherwise. You don't just pick up a wire. You don't just walk into a confined space. You don't just push a button.

    I don't imagine a movie set is any different than any other potentially dangerous work space. You have to know your environment, even if it is constantly changing, and your safety is ultimately your responsibility.

    • by Pascoea ( 968200 )
      From FTA:

      the hydraulic spaceship door was operated by another person and that as the actor passed beneath it, he was hit hard in the pelvis and pinned to the floor.

      So, two rookie mistakes. The actor for entering an unsafe situation, and the operator not making the area safe.

      • So, two rookie mistakes. The actor for entering an unsafe situation, and the operator not making the area safe.

        At least two additional mistakes:
        3. The rookie engineer who didn't include mechanical interlocks.
        4. The safety supervisor for not enforcing proper procedures.

      • So, two rookie mistakes. The actor for entering an unsafe situation, and the operator not making the area safe.

        Three mistakes. Whoever designed the door obviously doesn't have any experience with production automation, and didn't have an automated stop to prevent the door from closing if someone wasn't where they were supposed to be. Light curtains, pressure mats, whatever.
        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          You never design something like that on set. If the actor misses his spot, and improvises, but the shot is lost because a door in the background didn't shut, you'll get fired and blacklisted unless the safety measure was ordered by the director (and they generally don't bother with that).
          • I imagine you'd get fired/blacklisted just as quickly if your set design kills or maims an A-list actor.
            • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
              Nope. In this case, they aren't looking at the design of the door, but the guy who pushed "close" while Harrison Ford was under it, and the lack of process to seal off a set while people are building/testing dangerous props. The guy who made the door isn't in trouble, at least as far as the news around this indicates.
      • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:39PM (#52585861) Homepage

        So, two rookie mistakes.

        Two Wookiee mistakes.

        Thank you, thank you.

      • Ford might not have been at fault: "he walked on to the set not believing it to be live." Film production actually has very specific procedures (signs, human "minders") for keeping people safe, and ensuring continuity, i.e. a hot set: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki... [wiktionary.org]

    • Re:Rookie mistake (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lgw ( 121541 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:49PM (#52585915) Journal

      I don't imagine a movie set is any different than any other potentially dangerous work space.

      You'd be wrong about that. Actors are special - anything dangerous on set is supposed to have a minder specifically to keep it from hurting an actor, no matter how careless the actor.

      all systems should be treated as live until verified otherwise

      Remember: movie set. Dangerous items are usually props. The technical guys, sure, it's their job to know, but it's also their job to keep the coked-up airhead starlet safe (and the guy who plays her husband).

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        Let's not forget the healing capacity of a 71 year old is a lot different from a 30 year old (for example). An injury like that needs a minimum of 6 months recovery and ongoing physio therapy.

        The fire in his eyes was probably Ford not wanting to have anything to do with Star Wars anymore and he had had enough. The look was probably "If you don't write me out of this fucking movie I am going to sue you into oblivion".

      • by gosand ( 234100 )

        Reminder: Brandon Lee (Bruce Lee's son) was killed on a movie set by a strange mishap with a handgun. [wikipedia.org] Accidents happen no matter how many precautions are taken. Negligence or misuse just ups the odds.

    • I don't imagine a movie set is any different than any other potentially dangerous work space.

      Putting a hydraulic press with enough power to crush bone and no safety interlocks in the middle of a walkway in any other work space would get you sued, too.

  • by ai4px ( 1244212 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @04:59PM (#52585587)
    if it hadn't been for the emergency stop.... Hey, kids THERE WAS AN EMERGENCY STOP BUTTON!
    • if it hadn't been for the emergency stop.... Hey, kids THERE WAS AN EMERGENCY STOP BUTTON!

      There's (almost) always an e-stop. But my the time you can reach it someone is probably already as injured as they were going to get. I've been working in industrial automation for more than 20 years and I have prevented an impending injury with an e-stop precisely once. Even then it was because I had specifically told that person not to be where they were and I was moving to the e-stop at the moment the machine ran away (because someone shorted out a motor controller feedback circuit). Even then in the

  • by SeattleLawGuy ( 4561077 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:00PM (#52585599)

    On the one hand, a danger on many sets is like a slight danger at summer camp--yes, sometimes people throw things together that work and sometimes people can get hurt. If this were a small budget community theater set that was otherwise safe and an isolated incident it might be understandable.

    On the other hand, the Star Wars budget can afford one of those sensors like you have in every modern elevator that stops when someone is still in the door, as well as the guy who knows how to install it. So there is no question that they should be both liable for the medical expenses and fined. (This is how you encourage other people to install the sensor in the future.)

  • So after the lawyers are done, no movie (scifi or otherwise) will be allowed to have an "automatic" door due to possible lawsuits. Star Wars, Star Trek, Battleship 3.... Nothing.
    • Perhaps they'll go back to the old-school original Doctor Who and Star Trek: TOS style and have hidden stage hands opening and closing the "automatic" doors.
    • by hoofie ( 201045 )
      This was in the UK. Big money legal paydays are VERY hard to achieve as such cases are tried only with judges, there are many avenues for appeal and dodgy fee setups and outrageous demands don't work or are not permitted.
  • My enthusiasm for the Star Wars universe almost died when my hopes for a good Star Wars movie were crushed by The Force Awakens!

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      My enthusiasm for the Star Wars universe almost died when my hopes for a good Star Wars movie were crushed by The Force Awakens!

      The first one gets a pass - its job was to prove the franchise can make money, and bring in a new generation of fans. They at least had a hand-off from the old guard, which I certainly appreciated.

      Disney is pretty sharp about such things. Rogue One is the first real shot at a "real Star Wars movie".

      • The villains in Force Awakens are depressingly dumb, though.
        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          The villains in Force Awakens are depressingly dumb, though.

          To be sure. We have a new Disney Princess - way to challenge gender norms!

          But I hold out hope that our thoroughly unimpressive Darth Meh will have an actual character arc. Growing from here to being as impressive as Vader would be a heck of a story, a story I'd love to see.

  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:25PM (#52585777)
    "Never tell me the odds"
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Making a movie ain't like dusting crops, boy!

  • by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:55PM (#52585943)

    "New Republic Prosecutor Andrew Marshall said the rail-less walkway over the nearly bottomless pit 'could have killed somebody.' The fact that it didn't was because the writers 'pulled a deus ex machina out of their nether regions.' The engineering firm responsible for the Starkiller's power control station, Foodles Production, pleaded guilty to two breaches under health and safety legislation, one count under section two of the Health and Safety at Work Act of 9624, which related to a breach of duty in relation to employees, a second under section three, a breach over people not employed by the company. The lawyer for Foodles Production, which is owned by Disney, said "AARGHHHH" as he was force-stangled by Disney's newly-revealed CEO, the aforementioned Kylo Ren."

  • I'm truly tired of such statements. Here's the response I always give:

    "I might not finish this sentence".

    And now, be free!

  • I've seen enough of Harrison Ford's films to know that although he was in danger of imminent death, he could have escaped easily without a scratch.

  • He clearly states in the first movie (or episode IV whatever) that he has made aftermarket alterations to the Millennium Falcon. This was always going to be potentially dangerous and will have rendered his warranty void. He only has himself to blame.
    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      It didn't matter, really, the company that built MF went out of business due to the economic crash due to the destruction of the second death star. Any government run by people who can force-choke you certainly doesn't have to pay outstanding bills for in-progress projects that were destroyed by rebel terrorists.
  • One thing's for sure, he would have got a lot thinner!
  • Ms Ally McBeal said that the injury was caused by gross negligence and irresponsible use of a lightsaber.

  • Use the Chewbacca Defense!

    May the force be with the jury to rule the right way!

  • Sir, the odds of this hydraulic door being live and crushing your leg are 60000 to 1.

  • He had to grab it ;)

  • Otherwise he wouldn't have been able to film his death scene. That or suddenly the plot for call for Kylo Ren to drop a hydraulic door on his father.
  • A bit anti-climatic for a main character's fate, but could be useful in an alternate ending re-release.

  • It wasn't a door, but I'm positive that he died. I saw it happen and there were many other eyewitnesses.

  • He let the door hit him on the way in.
  • .. something happened that actually didn't happen.
  • Would be being killed by Foodles Production. Am I the only one that found it hard to read such a serious thing with such a ridiculous name?

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