The Twilight Zone accident

Actor Vic Morrow and two child-actors, Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, died on the set of the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie when the Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopter being used to film the climax of the movie’s first segment destabilized and crashed. The scene was filmed at night at Indian Dunes Ranch in Santa Clarita, California, and required Morrow to carry the two child-actors through a river while the helicopter pursued at an altitude of about 25 ft. overhead. Director John Landis instructed the pilot to take the vehicle even lower during one of the takes. A pyrotechnic went off while the helicopter’s tail-rotor was still over-top of it, causing it to detach and send the vehicle into an uncontrolled spin. Morrow and Le were decapitated by the helicopter’s top-blades while Chen was crushed to death by one of the skids. All six crew members in the helicopter were injured but survived. Footage of the accident recorded by the on-set cameras survived and has since been made available on the Internet. This accident led to a lengthy civil and criminal court case that lasted nearly a decade (a major component of which was the fact that Le and Chen were hired illegally by John Landis with disregard to the California’s child-labor laws), and marked the first time in the history of Hollywood that a director has been criminally charged due to a fatality on set. The event also led to revisions in the safety-practices that movie studios use for filming. Dick Peabody, an actor and a personal friend of Vic Morrow that co-starred with him on previous television projects that was attending the filming that night, has said that Morrow’s last words before beginning the stunt were “I’ve got to be crazy to do this shot. I should have asked for a double.”

Submission by Logan Agle. Thank you.