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Plane Crushes Worker on Disney Film Set

August 31, 1996

A special effects crew member on location for a Disney film in Utah was crushed to death late Thursday when a cargo plane fell on him, police and family members said Friday.

Phillip Swartz, 39, a welder, was working on the aircraft when he was pinned by the plane, his wife, Colleen, said in a telephone interview. The plane was being used in the filming of "Con Air," an action film being shot by Disney's Touchstone Pictures in the nearby Nevada desert and starring Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich and John Cusack.

Police in Wendover, Utah, where the accident took place, issued a statement saying Swartz was taken from the small community's airport to a nearby University of Utah clinic, where he was pronounced dead. They classified the incident as an industrial accident and a spokesman said late Friday that it was still under investigation. The spokesman declined to give details on how the accident occurred and what Swartz was doing at the time.

Colleen Swartz said her husband was employed by Special Effects Unlimited, a Los Angeles-based firm. Other crew members broke the news of the accident to her Thursday night when she drove in to meet her husband for a country music concert, she said. Swartz and her four daughters live in Mountain Green, Utah, 150 miles east of the Utah-Nevada border.

Officials for Special Effects Unlimited could not be reached for comment. Disney publicists did not return phone calls from The Times seeking comment.

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