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Accidents rare in stunt biz

Monday's deadly crash on the set of Deadpool 2 in Vancouver was a rarity in an industry that takes extreme precautions, say stunt professionals, who nevertheless accept there is always an element of risk involved.

"Most of us know each other and everybody was shocked, because this stuff just doesn't really happen, in Canada, anyway," says Neven Pajkic, a 39-year-old Toronto-based stunt performer whose credits include Guillermo del Toro's upcoming film The Shape of Water and the TV series The Handmaid's Tale.

"It just doesn't happen, and it's heartbreaking."

Joi (SJ) Harris, a 40-year-old female stunt driver from New York, died after her motorcycle crashed into a window of a building during production. Details have not emerged as to exactly what happened, but some witnesses said she appeared to lose control of the vehicle.

The incident came about a month after the death of a stuntman on the set of The Walking Dead.

"It is a rarity, but the possibility exists that it can happen," says Rick Forsayeth, a Toronto-based stunt co-ordinator, noting in his 35 years in the industry — working on films including X-Men, Resident Evil: Extinction and AVP: Alien vs. Predator — there's never been a fatality on set.

Adam Winlove-Smith, a 34-year-old stunt performer from Toronto whose credits include the upcoming "Code 8" film starring Stephen Amell and Robbie Amell, agrees that catastrophic accidents "are super rare" but professionals accept there are risks.

"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."

"Nobody's going to pick you to do a stunt if you don't have sufficient training," says Pajkic.

"You can't just go out there and pretend you're a stunt guy. That doesn't happen, ever."



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