Thursday, April 26, 2012

Actor accidentally really hangs himself.

The celebration of Easter frequently has re-enactments of significant events in the life if Christ.  In this case, an Brazilian actor, Tiago Klimeck, 27, was recreating the suicide of Judas Iscariot as he hangs himself as described in the Bible in the book of Matthew.  This is part of a production of the play "The Passion of the Christ."  The event was presented on Good Friday in the southern city of Itarare, Brazil.

The actor just before the accident.
Klemick was wearing a fall protection harness and allegedly knew how to arrange the equipment under his robe costume so that the rope around his neck would not cause him any harm.  He had borrowed the harness from the local Fire Department on previous occasions, so they did not review the donning of the equipment with him.  Witness say he was hanging nearly four minutes before anyone became concerned.

Luiz Carlos Rosner owns a sandwich cart next to the city square where the play was taking place. He described the anxiety after cast members realized Klimeck was unconscious.  "One of the actors came over to me, desperate, explaining there was someone unconscious hanging from the rope and that he wanted to cut it," Rosner told TV Record. "I was a little worried about giving him a knife in the middle of the crowd."

He was taken down and rushed to the hospital where he remained in a medically induced coma in a medically induced coma for 16 days due to extensive brain injuries from a prolonged lack of oxygen.  He passed away in he Hospital Santa Casa de Misericordia, in the neighboring city of Itapeva.

The harness, along with the rope used in the play, are now being analyzed at the Criminal Institute of Sorocaba.

No matter how confident performers and technicians are in setting-up stunt work, it is vital that pre-show rehearsals review the effect, the equipment, and the adjustments of the components to ensure performer safety.  It is also important to have a quick way to check if performers are in trouble.  In this situation, a discrete hand signal that would only be possible if the performer is conscious might have provided just enough warning to  a spotter that the effect had been compromised.  Ideally, the harness and rope system would have been reviewed to ensure that the relative tensions were proper.  Presumably, there was someone there to lower the actor to the ground after the scene, and this person should have had eye-contact and/or intercom communications with spotters, too. The search for a knife to cut the actor down indicates that there was no easy way to lower the performer to safety.

NO stunt is worth your life.  Plan, check, certify, evaluate, think of all the ways the stunt might go wrong, re-evaluate, check again, test it, and re-test it.

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