Saugus, CA Movie Filming Accident Kills Vic Morrow and 2 Children, July 1982
PROBE BEGINS IN MORROW TRAGEDY.
Hollywood (UPI) -- Numerous investigations, by everyone from state labor officials to the actors' guild, were underway today in the freak helicopter accident that killed veteran actor VIC MORROW and two Vietnamese children.
MORROW, 50, who gained fame in the 1960s as an infantryman in the World War II TV series "Combat"; RENEE SHINN CHENN, 6, and MY-CA DINH LEE, 7, were killed early Friday in the crash of a chartered helicopter. The accident occurred during a scene depicting a Vietnam War aerial attack for the movie "The Twilight Zone."
Six people aboard the helicopter were slightly injured in the 2:30 a.m. PDT accident.
Witnesses said MORROW, with the children in his arms, was running across open ground mined with explosive charges to simulate machinegun fire when clods of dirt and rocks flew into the helicopter blades, disabling it.
More than a hundred movie extras and production assistants watched in horror as the chopper plummeted and caught MORROW and the children in the main rotor blade. The chopper crashed into a riverbed.
The Steven Spielberg production was being filmed in a mock Vietnamese village built in rural Indian Dunes Park, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles near the community of Saugus and Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park.
Dan Llorente, an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the film scene was brightly illuminated and four cameras were filming the accident, so there should be an accurate record of the mishap.
Llorente said the pilot, DORCEY WINGO, 35, told him he was hovering over the outdoor set when the director told him to bring the chopper lower.
Llorente said the pilot told him he brought the ship down to about 30 to 35 feet and started making a left turn. At that point, Llorente said, the explosive charges started going off.
"After the second or third charge ... the aircraft became uncontrollable," Llorente said. He said the tail rotor, essential for control, separated from its shaft.
The two children killed appeared to have been working in violation of a state law restricting working hours of youngsters under the age of 8.
Francis Bacon, senior deputy state labor commissioner, said his office normally refuses to grant waivers for 6 and 7 year olds to work past 7 p.m. He said no request for the children was on file in his office.
Kim Fellner, public relations director for the actors' guild said the union will conduct its own investigation of the accident.