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Fast 9 filmmakers fined $1 million after stuntman suffered brain damage during set accident
Featured Image Credit: Facebook. Universal Pictures

Fast 9 filmmakers fined $1 million after stuntman suffered brain damage during set accident

Joe Watts was standing in for Vin Diesel for a stunt that was changed at the last minute.

Fast 9 filmmakers have been fined $1 million after a stuntman suffered brain damage in an on-set accident.

Joe Watts was a seasoned stunt performer with an impressive resumé before he worked on the ninth instalment of the long-running franchise.

He had appeared in films like Solo: A Star Wars Story, Game of Thrones, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and Pokemon: Detective Pikachu.

However, he suffered serious injuries while shooting F9: The Fast Saga back in 2019.

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Watts was rehearsing a fight scene at Leavesden Studios and was standing in for the franchise’s main star Vin Diesel.

However, things took an ugly turn when a safety wire malfunctioned, leading him to be hurled over a balcony before slamming onto a concrete floor from a height of over 20 feet.

In addition to brain damage, Watts also suffered a broken skull in the accident.

The UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) led the prosecution against the F9 production and a court heard how the stuntman was 'fortunate to be alive' following the incident.

Watts' attorneys revealed in the lawsuit that Watts will not be able to return to his work as a stunt performer, adding: “If he is able to work, he will suffer a permanent handicap on the labor market.”

During the trial, it was revealed that Watts' stunt was changed during filming and at the last minute.

He was initially supposed to be thrown over a person's right shoulder.

However, during filming, he ended up being thrown over the left shoulder.

Universal Pictures

In between the first and second take, his safety line detached and wasn't checked by the crew.

When it came time for the second take, Watts fell several feet to the ground and crashed onto the concrete below as the crash mats weren't adjusted for the different throw.

District judge Talwinder Buttar slammed the decision to change the way the stunt was filmed and found it 'astonishing' that safety precautions weren't followed.

HSE told the court that there was 'no system for double checking that the link had been properly engaged and tightened' in relation to the safety harness.

HSE inspector Roxanne Barker said: "Mr Watts' injuries were life-changing and he could have easily been killed.

"In stunt work, it is not about preventing a fall but minimising the risk of an injury."

FF9 Pictures, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures in the UK, was fined $1 million at Luton Magistrates' Court after admitting to health and safety failings.

Topics: Fast and Furious, Film and TV