After the death of a camerawoman while shooting a film with Hollywood star Alec Baldwin, a US agency for occupational safety and health has fined her for lack of safety on the set. The producers of the western “Rust” have to pay a maximum fine of almost $137,000 (126,816.63 euros), as the authorities in Santa Fe, New Mexico, announced on Wednesday.
A month-long investigation into the fatal shooting on the film’s set in October 2021 has brought to light violations of safety regulations, it said. The authority accuses the producers of disregarding safety protocols for the use of weapons. For example, there should never have been “live ammunition” at the location or a weapon should have been aimed at a person, the investigation report said. The “tragic incident” could have been avoided.
Camerawoman fatally injured
During the shooting of the low-budget western “Rust” on a film ranch in Santa Fe, chief camerawoman Halyna Hutchins (42) was fatally injured and director Joel Souza was hit in the shoulder. Baldwin, who served as lead actor and producer on the film, had used the gun in rehearsal for one scene. Investigations revealed that the Colt had a real bullet lodged in it.
Police investigations into how this happened are ongoing. Shortly after the incident, the public prosecutor’s office had stated that criminal prosecution was also possible.
Several civil lawsuits are already pending. In February, the camerawoman’s relatives accused Baldwin and other film crew members of gross negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit. A young gunsmith has sued a man who supplied props, including ammunition, for the shoot. The lawyers of the weapon master in focus brought “sabotage” into play in November. Someone could have put a live ammunition bullet in a box of harmless dummy cartridges to sabotage the shoot.
Baldwin has repeatedly denied responsibility for Hutchins’ death in interviews. It was a “horrible tragedy” but he was not responsible for the fatal accident, his lawyer said in a letter in March. Other people were responsible for the safety of props.