What a terrible tragedy.
Alec Baldwin was filming a western movie called Rust in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Thursday when a scene asked him to fire a prop gun. It should have fired harmlessly as it was loaded with empty rounds. However, when the gun went off, a projectile came out and struck both the director of the film and the director of photography.
According to TMZ sources, director Joel Souza suffered a clavicle injury and was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital where his injuries are now being treated. However, cinematographer Helena Hutchins’ injuries were more serious. He was taken by helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where he died.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a statement that Hutchins and Souza were “shot when a prop shotgun was discharged by producer and actor Alec Baldwin, 68.”
It is not clear whether the wrong rounds were loaded or whether there were shrapnel in the barrel. At present the investigation is going on. No arrests have been made. The word “accident” is not yet used officially at this time. Sheriff’s spokesman Juan Rios explained:
“The Sheriff’s office is referring to this incident as a shooting investigation. That detail will be addressed by detectives as they work their case… According to investigators it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged. Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.”
Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Baldwin had tears in his eyes after being interviewed by investigators.
Rust is a western written and directed by Souza and starring Supernatural Jensen Ackles. It is not clear at the moment whether the production of the film will continue. Rust Movie Productions LLC, the production company set up for the film, issued a statement saying that production had been halted “for an indefinite period”:
“The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today’s tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna’s family and loved ones. We have halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating with the Santa Fe Police Department’s investigation. We will be providing counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event.”
Earlier on Thursday, Baldwin posted a photo of himself from set on his Instagram, possibly from earlier scenes with the shoot, as he had fake blood on his dress. He deleted the photo as soon as news of the incident broke:
It’s shocking that an accident of this seriousness could still happen on the set of a movie in 2021, following the horrific history that includes the death of Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow, an incident that’s sad to see.
You may not have heard of Hutchins, but you probably have. She was named a “rising star” by American cinematographers in 2019. Friend and fellow DP Michael Pessa told Variety:
“She’s a wonderful, positive, creative person that was so excited to be breaking through and making movies. She was really on the upswing.”
She was only 42 years old. so unimaginable.
Our hearts are with his loved ones right now.