Questions remain over circumstances of 'Deadpool' set death
A police officer makes markings around a motorcycle after a stunt rider crashed and went through a window on the set of 'Deadpool 2' in Vancouver, August, 14, 2017. The stunt rider succumbed to her injuries. (Richard Lam/Postmedia Network)
Joi "SJ" Harris, a 40-year-old motorcyclist from New York who died Monday performing a stunt on the Deadpool 2 set in downtown Vancouver, was inspirational, sweet and bubbly, say friends.
“You were a beautiful badass force of nature and I am sure whatever passes for a racetrack in the afterworld has your name all over it,” wrote Grace Roselli, a New York-based artist who knew and had worked with Harris, on Facebook.
But Roselli went on to ask why producers reportedly had her performing the stunt without a helmet.
Deadline Hollywood reported Harris was not wearing a helmet because the character she was playing during the shoot does not wear one and that this was her first stunt job.
Trish Knight Chernecki, a spokeswoman for WorkSafeBC, which is investigating the death, could not confirm whether Harris was wearing a helmet or speak about the investigation.
Movie studio 20th Century Fox could not be reached Tuesday.
Adam Winlove-Smith, a 34-year-old stunt performer from Toronto, said catastrophic accidents on the job “are super rare."
“It is risky but everybody knows that going into the industry, so you have to have that personality to deal with that risk that may occur,” he said.
Squamish councillor Peter Kent has worked as a stuntman since 1984 and was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body double for a decade. He said he was devastated after hearing the news.
“Everybody in the industry feels this especially in the stunt community which is very tight,” Kent said. “It’s just horrific. A kick in the gut.”
“She started this day like any other day. She got up and was probably very excited to go to work. My heart goes out to her, her family, her friends and her co-workers."
Kent said professional stunt people approach each stunt with an analytical mind. He said the equipment would tested and you would practice the stunt at slow speeds. But still not everything always goes right.
According to the Deadline Hollywood report, Harris had rehearsed the ride several times over the weekend and on Monday morning and her motorcycle appeared to speed up when it should have slowed down during the final run.
“You push the envelope and the envelope pushes back. The devil is always in the details,” Kent said.
At times, Harris had written about her career on a personal blog. In an entry from last month she encouraged people to invest in quality gear and "not skimp on your safety."
She said track riding and racing "teaches us to analyze why we crash so that we do NOT make the same mistake again."
And when it comes to crashing, "I've learned to accept that I am not the greatest rider that exists and that there is always something to learn when on the track and pushing limits."
With files from Canadian Press and Lora Grindlay.