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Female stunt driver dies on Deadpool 2 set in Vancouver: police

The movie was filming in downtown Vancouver, near Jack Poole Plaza. Police and WorksafeBC are currently on scene investigating.

The movie Deadpool 2 was filming in downtown Vancouver, near Jack Poole Plaza.

AP

The movie Deadpool 2 was filming in downtown Vancouver, near Jack Poole Plaza.

A female stunt driver died on the set of Deadpool 2 this morning while doing a stunt on a motorcycle, Vancouver police have confirmed.

The movie was filming in downtown Vancouver, near Jack Poole Plaza. Police and WorksafeBC are currently on scene investigating the incident, which happened near 8 a.m.

Deadline Hollywood has identified the woman who died as Joi "SJ" Harris, an experienced motorcycle racer. Her website says Harris was "the first licensed African American woman in U.S. history to compete in AMA (American Motorcycling Association) events."

Police close off part of Downtown Vancouver where a stunt rider died while filming the movie Deadpool 2 on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017.

Jen St. Denis/Metro

Police close off part of Downtown Vancouver where a stunt rider died while filming the movie Deadpool 2 on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017.

Police close off part of Downtown Vancouver where a stunt rider died while filming the movie Deadpool 2 on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017.

Jen St. Denis/Metro

Police close off part of Downtown Vancouver where a stunt rider died while filming the movie Deadpool 2 on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017.

Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, who grew up in Vancouver, tweeted a statement at 2:20 p.m. that read: "Today, we tragically lost a member of our crew while filming Deadpool. We’re heatbroken, shocked and devastated… but recognize nothing can come close to the grief and inexplicable pain her family and loved ones must feel in this moment. My heart pours out to them – along with each and every person she touched in this world."

WorksafeBC had officers on the scene, two inspecting for immediate health and safety issues and three investigating "for cause and prevention," according to the workplace safety authority.

Sharmina Kermalli said she had just walked into a Starbucks next door to where the accident happened when she heard a loud crash.

She ran out of the coffee shop and saw a woman lying with her body inside and her head outside the building.

Glass was still falling on the woman, Kermalli said.

“I was thinking, what if I was just five seconds (later),” she said, explaining that she had just walked by the spot where the crash happened.

Nathan Kramchynski works on the seventh floor of the Shaw Tower and had been watching the film crew work since 7 a.m. this morning.

He said the stunt driver had completed several rehearsals of the stunt, which involved driving a motorcycle down two ramps across several stairs near Jack Poole Plaza. During those earlier attemps, he said the motorcycle stopped at the end of the two ramps and was travelling slowly.

"She came out, went down the two flights of stairs, and it looked like she kind of hit the throttle because she picked up speed," Kramchynski said. 

"Before you know it, she crossed (the) street then (we) kind of lost her to view but we saw she had no where else to go. It was like, she was going full throttle — and then there’s a building there."

Kramchynski added that it appeared the driver "missed two pedestrians" during the stunt gone wrong. 

"We were kind of shocked. We didn't know if there was padding, if there was a reason why that happened."

Kramchynski said ambulances were on the scene very quickly.

Kramchynski was shocked to hear that the woman died. "My deepest sympathies," he said.

Creative B.C. and the Motion Picture Association of British Columbia also expressed sympathy in a statement: "British Columbia's motion picture production community together expresses deepest sadness today for the tragic loss that occurred on set this morning...Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of the dedicated professional who lost her life today."  

The last time a stuntperson died on the job in B.C. was 1996, said Trish Chernecki, a spokesperson for WorksafeBC. In that incident, the stuntman's chute failed to open as he jumped from a helicopter near the Squamish Chief during the filming of Firestorm, a feature-length movie released in 1998.

The first Deadpool movie was also shot in Vancouver, and the return of the movie for the filming of the sequel has generated much public interest, with crowds gathering to watch sequences filmed on busy downtown streets

- With files from The Canadian Press

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