In August of 2017, Joi Harris was performing a motorcycle stunt on the set of Deadpool 2 when she lost control of her bike and crashed through a window. She was pronounced dead at the scene shortly thereafter by a medical team. Now, nearly three years after the tragedy, Harris’ death has been declared “accidental” by a coroner.
Harris had rehearsed the stunt seven times before shooting and increased her speed right before the crash occurred, with the stunt woman traveling between 20-25 kilometers per hour during the incident. After the accident, WorkSafeBC found TCF Vancouver Productions negligible and fined them $300,000. Violations included failing to do a risk assessment before performing the stunt, increased speed, limitations of the equipment and completing a safety checklist.
Harris was doubling for Zazie Beetz for the scene in question and because she was dressed as the character Domino, she wasn’t wearing a helmet, which the report claims was “a contributing factor in the crash.” It was also Harris’ first time working as a stunt driver on a film.
Reactions from the cast and crew at the time were swift and heartfelt, with star Ryan Reynolds releasing the following statement:
“Today, we tragically lost a member of our crew while filming Deadpool. We’re heartbroken, shocked, and devastated… but recognize nothing can come close to the grief and inexplicable pain her family and loved ones must feel in this moment. My heart pours out to them — along with each and every person she touched in this world,” Reynolds said on Twitter.
Deadpool 2 director David Leitch also commented when the incident occurred, saying:
“I’m deeply saddened by the loss of one of our stunt performers today. No words can express how I and the rest of the Deadpool 2 crew feel about this tragedy. Our thoughts are with her family, friends, and loved ones in this difficult time.”
Honestly, it’s truly amazing that more stunt performers don’t die while making movies. It’s a testament to the amount of time and effort that goes into planning every conceivable detail of a stunt that they’re typically safe to carry out and often don’t lead to major injuries or death. Unfortunately, though, Harris, who was the first African-American woman to be licensed as a motorcycle road racer, was one of the unlucky ones and we can only hope that what happened on the set of Deadpool 2 is used as a lesson so that future productions can avoid the same mistakes.