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Cal OSHA fines 'Lone Ranger' producer over crew member's death

On Location

March 25, 2013|By Richard Verrier
  • A scene from "The Lone Ranger,"starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger. A crew member died while preparing an underwater shoot for the film at a ranch in Acton.
A scene from "The Lone Ranger,"starring Johnny Depp as Tonto… (Peter Mountain / Disney…)

State regulators have fined a producer of the upcoming Walt Disney Studios movie “The Lone Ranger” more than $60,000, citing numerous safety violations in connection with a crew member who died at a movie ranch in Acton.

A 48-year-old diver drowned in September while cleaning a water tank in preparation for shooting an underwater scene at the Polsa Rosa Ranch in northern Los Angeles County.

After an investigation, California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health cited Silver Bullet Productions Inc. for various violations of the state labor code stemming from the fatality, according to a report issued Wednesday.

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The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, included “serious” citations for not having a standby diver available while another was in the water, and not providing a medical examination to determine an employee’s medical fitness to dive.

The report also said, “The employer failed to ensure that all employees (diver team members) engaged in a diving operation to clean a deep pool/water tank located at the Polsa Rosa Ranch were trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, diver rescue techniques and diving related first aid.”

Cal-OSHA also faulted producers for failing to have a person in charge of all aspects of the diving operation and for not maintaining “documentation of safety and health training for all employees.”

In a statement last fall, Disney noted that the incident did not occur during filming and said it was investigating the circumstances. Disney officials were not immediately available for comment on the fines.

The “Lone Ranger” fatality was one of several recent accidents on Southern California film sets. In February, three people died in a helicopter crash at Polsa Rosa Ranch during filming of a reality TV program for Discovery Channel — the worst film set accident in California in three decades.

“The Lone Ranger,” directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, filmed in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah as well as L.A. The film has experienced other incidents since production began on the $200-million-plus movie, which is set to open in July.

In May, a stuntman was injured on a set in New Mexico, according to local reports. Depp, who plays Tonto, has said he narrowly avoided injury after being thrown from a horse while filming and being dragged 25 yards on the ground.

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