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Killed by a shark, smashing into bridges and paralysed on Harry Potter set: when film stunts go tragically wrong

But as Resident Evil stunt double Olivia Jackson proved this week – pulling off death-defying stunts can have brutal consequences.

The Brit daredevil – who had previously performed stunts in Mad Max and Star Wars -was flung from a motorbike on set in 2015 and pelted into a camera.

Her injuries were so bad that she had to have her left arm amputated and half her face was torn off, and she's now suing the production company and film director for £2.2million.

And Olivia, 35, is not the only stunt double to have suffered traumatic injuries while trying to get the perfect shot.

Paralysed while filming Harry Potter

The visual effects in Harry Potter might seem like they’re down to magic, but there is a grim truth behind the sparkle.

Daniel Radcliffe's stunt double David Holmes was just 25 when he was paralysed while filming The Deathly Hallows in 2009 – when he was thrown backwards against a wall during a flying scene and ended up breaking his neck.

He is now permanently paralysed from the waist down and living in a wheelchair. 

Speaking to The Mirror five years after the freak accident, he said: “I hit the wall and then landed on the crash mat underneath.

"My stunt coordinator grabbed my hand and said, ‘Squeeze my fingers’. I could move my arm to grab his hand but I couldn’t squeeze his fingers.”

When told that he would be paralysed for life, Holmes' first thoughts “weren’t about not being able to walk again. It was all the other stuff, like not being able to dance again or have sex.”

He even hesitated before sharing the devastating news with his parents, as he didn't “want to worry them.”

Killed on a motorbike while filming Deadpool

Joi "SJ" Harris, 40, was killed in 2017 whilst filming a motorbike scene for the second Deadpool film, where she was body double for the character Domino.

Despite being an extremely experienced motorcycle racer, this was Harris' first stunt job on a movie and she had not been wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

The female road racer lost control of the motorbike and was thrown through the glass front of the Shaw Tower in Vancouver, Canada.

On the 911 call made to the emergency services, the responder was heard saying: "The stunt actor was airborne through the building" and "hasn't been moving" since landing.

Harrowing pictures of the scene show the motorbike Harris was riding lying on its side with smashed glass scattered around it. There was also a window missing at the Shaw Tower, which had been covered by a plastic sheet.

Smashed into a bridge

Left with brain damage after head-on collision

Despite The Hangover II being one of the highest grossing and most popular films of 2011 – making £288m, actor Ed Helm's body double was almost killed following a scene that went horribly wrong.

Australian stunt man Scott McLean was left severely brain damaged after his head smashed into a truck while he was leaning out of a moving car.

The adrenaline junkie said that the stunt coordinator ordered the car's driver to increase his speed during the shot, "resulting in a major collision".

Following the horrific accident, he was in a coma for six weeks and was left needing 24 hour nursing care and a constant supply of oxygen.

McLean went on to sue Warner Bros, and is waiting to be awarded financial damages for his life altering injuries.

Fell to death on concrete floor

The tragic death of John Bernecker on the scene of the Walking Dead was enough to temporarily stop production of the eighth season in its tracks.

The highly-trained stunt performer, 34, who previously worked on The Hunger Games and Logan, plunged to his death while filming a scene on a balcony that required him to plummet 22 feet to the ground. He missed the safety cushion by "inches", instead hitting the concrete floor.

Minutes before shooting the scene, Bernecker had admitted to another actor that he had never previously done a fall from that height before, with his colleague describing him as being "a little nervous".

Following his death, John's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the show's network.


Bernecker's colleagues took to Twitter to express their sympathy, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan, saying "Love, respect, and condolences to johns family, and friends. He will be forever missed."

Ripped apart by shark while filming 

Perhaps one of the most terrifying examples of stunts going wrong is the death of Jose Marco, a Mexican stunt man who was ripped apart by a bull shark while filming scenes for budget thriller, Shark!

The shark had been dragged onto the shore, with the aim of making it distressed to get better footage.

When put back in the water, it immediately went for Marco, puncturing a protective net that was meant to separate the two of them.

As the shark made its way towards the stunt performer, the crew started firing spear guns at it to no effect and the shark sunk its teeth in to Marco, ripping open his abdomen. He died in hospital hours later.

The movie company capitalised off the stunts man's death, renaming the film Shark! from its original title Caine, causing the film director to disassociate himself from the film.

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