The production company behind the "Fast and Furious" franchise has been fined £800,000 (roughly $1 million) after a stuntman suffered life-changing injuries on the set of the ninth film, "F9: The Fast Saga". Joe Watts, 35, was left with a fractured skull, traumatic brain injury and shoulder damage after falling 25ft (7.5m) from a balcony onto concrete during a fight scene filmed at Warner Bros.
Studios. in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, England, in July 2019 Watts was acting as Vin Diesel's stunt double when the accident happened. It was supposed to be thrown over the performer's right shoulder, but at the last minute the stunt was changed so that it was thrown over the left shoulder.
This change caused Watts to miss the protective mats and land head first on the concrete.
The production and the studio bear responsibility for the accident
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the production company did not adequately assess the risks associated with the stunt and did not take sufficient steps to mitigate those risks.
The HSE also found that the safety wire that should have prevented Watts' fall was not properly attached. As a result of the investigation, FF9 Pictures Limited, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The company was fined £800,000 (roughly $1 million) and ordered to pay costs of £17,421.89 ( $22,000 ) Speaking after sentencing, District Judge Talvinder Butar said: "This was a serious breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The company failed to take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of its employees. As a result, Mr Watts suffered injuries which life-changing. This case should serve as a reminder to all employers of their responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees."
He is no longer able to do his job
Watts said the accident had a "profound" impact on his life.
He is no longer able to work as a stuntman and suffers from constant pain and cognitive impairment. He is also unable to drive, play sports, or even go for long walks without becoming exhausted. He said in a statement: "I am grateful to be alive but this accident has changed my life forever.
I can no longer do the things I love and I am in constant pain. I hope this case helps prevent other stuntmen from being injured in the future ." Before the accident, Watts was very busy, successful and in high demand - he worked as a stuntman in many famous projects, from 'Game of Thrones' and 'Star Wars' to 'Kingsman'