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Report Alleges That Deadpool 2 Set Death Could Have Been Prevented

Could a tragic accident on the set of Deadpool 2 have been prevented? A new set of allegations from The Hollywood Reporter suggests that negligence by producers led to the death of stuntwoman Joi "S.J." Harris, who was killed while working on the movie's Vancouver set on Aug. 14.

Harris, the first African-American female professional road racer, was killed when the motorcycle she was riding crashed through the glass of the ground floor of Shaw Tower. Witnesses said she had performed the stunt five times perfectly, but on the sixth she lost control, continuing to drive past her planned stopping point and hitting a curb, throwing her through the window. At the time, she was doubling for Zazie Beetz's Domino.

Some in the stunt community were concerned that Harris was unqualified for the job, pointing out the fact that the film was her first as a stunt performer. Allegations have said that Harris was chosen because she was a skin tone and gender match for Beetz, with THR writing that several crew members approached producers in the days before the stunt to say that she wasn't ready.

"She was improving, but I was watching her and, oh my God, I thought, 'It's just a matter of time before she crashes into a wall or runs somebody over,'" said one stunt performer who trained Harris before the crash. The performer added that a member of the stunt team reached out to producers with their concerns but was ignored.

Two people familiar with the shoot allege that Harris had crashed the bike on two separate occasions in the days before the accident. A source also says that she was the second person to be hired for the job, with the earlier stuntwoman not performing well on the motorcycle in rehearsal. "I cringed every time she went out," added the performer who trained Harris. "Like, when is she going to crash?... They were warned, yes!"

"The producers put pressure to have somebody of the same sex and ethnicity in a position she wasn't qualified to be in," said Conrad Palmisano, a veteran stunt coordinator who has worked on movies like Sleepless in Seattle and 21 Jump Street. While Palmisano was not employed on Deadpool 2, he says that he has been in contact with several people on set that day. "The stunt coordinators caved to the pressure," added Palmisano. "All the stunt people could do was take it to their higher-ups. They're going to follow their chain of command." 

UCLA Dean of Social Studies Darnell Hunt, who helps to write the annual "Hollywood Diversity Report" each year, said that the need for the film to reach out to an inexperienced stunt performer to find an African American double further highlights the lack of diversity in Hollywood. "If the movie's producers had to go outside of the normal stunt community to find someone who was both qualified and resembles the actress, that speaks to a problem of lack of diversity of stunt performers," he said. 

Deadpool 2 is set to star Ryan Reynolds as the titular hero, with Beetz joining as Domino and Josh Brolin joining as Cable. Other cast members in the film include Jack Kesy, Shioli Kutsuna, Julian Dennison, T.J. Miller, Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapacic, Leslie Uggams, and Karan Soni. The movie, which is directed by David Leitch, began filming in late July and has a June 1, 2018 release date.