On Sept. 1, Gabriela Cedillo, an extra in a street scene being shot in Hammond,Indiana , suffered life-threatening injuries when a tow cable broke and struck her car. Blaine Baker, another extra in the scene who witnessed the accident, said the cable “whipped around and sliced through the woman’s car and sliced through her skull, apparently.”
Although the “Transformers 3” scene was heavy on stuntwork and featured explosions and cars flying around the set, Cedillo was not part of the stunt crew and was not involved in any of the stunts. According to her family and friends, Cedillo is a bank teller in Chicago and an aspiring actress who was very excited to be working on the movie.
On Sept. 5, Cedillo’s family reported that she had just undergone brain surgery and appears to be doing better. Although she is in a medically-induced coma and has yet to regain consciousness, she has been able to move in her sleep and doctors say this is a good sign that she will recover.
A Facebook page has been set up to support her recovery.
The accident has caused filming to be delayed. The Chicago unit was scheduled to wrap up their filming on Sept. 2, but all of the remaining shoots in that area have been canceled for the time being. There is no word yet if this will push back the film’s release date, which is scheduled for July 1, 2011.
“Transformers 3” is not the only current sequel to a blockbuster series to suffer from on-set accidents. A stuntman working on “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was paralyzed early last year during a stunt that went wrong. David Holmes, who was a stunt double for Daniel Radcliffe, was performing a dangerous stunt known as a “Jerk Back” when the harness he was attached to malfunctioned, pulling him back too far and causing him to hit the ground rather than the safety mats. He was told he would never walk again. Although the accident did not halt production on the movie, it is expected that the studio will face a lawsuit from the accident.
Tragic though Holmes’ accident was, danger is an expected and accepted part of being a professional stuntman. Extras, who are usually paid minimum wage or a small flat fee, are not expected to be exposed to danger. In 2008, 11 extras were injured during the filming of Tom Cruise’s WWII thriller “Valkyrie.” The extras were riding in a truck that was supposed to take a sharp turn. However, the side panel of the truck fell off and the extras were thrown from the vehicle and into the street. The extras sued the filmmakers for ₤6 million ($9,280,000), and the lawsuit contributed to the film’s numerous production delays pushing the release date back by six months.
WLS-TV, “‘Transformers’ accident critically injures extra,” ABC News.
WGN-TV, “Extra seriously injured during filming of Transformers 3,” The Chicago Tribune
Carlos Sadovi, “Injured ‘Transformers 3’ extra doing better after surgery,” The Chicago Tribune
Amy Nelmes, “Tragic Harry Potter stunt double will never walk again,” People.co.uk
Allan Hall, “Tom Cruise’s film Valkyrie hit by £6m lawsuit from injured extras,” The Telegraph