Helicopter crash decapitated Hollywood star and killed two kids in front of crew

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A hideous helicopter crash that killed two child actors and Hollywood star Vic Morrow happened in front of a 100-member crew and the parents of the child stars.

Twilight Zone: The Movie will always be remembered for the tragic behind-the-scenes accident that saw three people killed when a stunt went horribly wrong.

Two illegally-hired Vietnamese child actors and Morrow, who had starred in The Glass House and The Bad News Bears, were killed after a helicopter crash landed onto the trio, who were filming a scene for the anthology piece.

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Their scene together was directed by John Landis of Animal House Blues Brothers fame, but his segment for the Steven Spielberg project is mired in horrific tragedy.

Landis' work on the piece depicted veteran actor Morrow as a man hoping to be a hero, with the segment set to show the star saving the two children from an attacking helicopter.

Renee Shin Chen, six, and Myca Dinh Le, seven, were thrust through the Santa Clara River along with Morrow in a stunt-heavy segment that surrounded them with pyrotechnic explosions.

A horrifying miscalculation for the explosives meant that the helicopter, which was just 25ft above the three actors, was caught in the pyrotechnics and made the pilot lose control of the aircraft.

The tragedy saw Chen crushed to death by the helicopter, while Morrow and Dinh Le were decapitated by the blades of the chopper.

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All of this occurred right in front of the horrified 100-member crew, including the parents of both children involved in the scene.

To add even further tragedy, should the scene have been completed, Morrow was to utter the line: "I'll keep you safe, kids. I promise. Nothing will hurt you, I swear to God."

John Landis and four other members of the crew were brought forward on manslaughter charges, with a trial lasting 10 months and featuring 71 unique witnesses.

Landis became the first movie director to ever be charged with a death on the set of a feature film, yet still refused to accept responsibility for the incident.

Those questioned at the trial openly admitted to illegally hiring the child actors as well as alleging that Landis had demanded the helicopter fly lower to the trio of actors on the ground below.

Francis Bacon, the senior deputy labour commissioner in the State Department of Industrial Relations at the time of the incident, said: "If in fact they were six and seven, probably the latest they would be able to work would be 7 o'clock in the evening."

It brought further controversy to a well-known movie tragedy, one that Landis has spoken little of since the tragedy 40 years ago.

A news repot from UPI at the time of the tragedy said that Mike Corbett, a lighting technician that worked on the film, had said a petrol fire bomb had blown the back rotor of the helicopter off and sent it out of control.

Following the incident, Spielberg reportedly ended his friendship with Landis, with the latter going on to direct a string of hit films including Trading Places.


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