A professional motorcycle racer was sent to perform a stunt for a Hollywood North blockbuster without a helmet and means to disable the bike she rode, according to a report from the British Columbia coroners service.
Sequana Joi Cooke Harris, a professional motorcycle racer better known as Joi Harris, died Aug. 14, 2017 when she was ejected from a Ducati Hyperstrada 939 motorcycle and collided with a window at Shaw Tower during a scene for the Ryan Reynolds sequel.
The B.C. Coroners Service finally released the investigation report about the 40-year-old New Yorker’s death on June 10, declaring she died by accident from a blunt force traumatic head injury.
Coroner Kimberly Isbister found no alcohol, illicit drugs or prescribed medication in Harris’s system and WorkSafeBC found the motorcycle free of defects and no type of mechanical malfunction was found. But Harris was not wearing a kill switch lanyard and supervising staff failed to ensure she had it.
“She did not have experience working with a motorcycle on a closed set with obstacles and/or stairs, working as a stunt person or stunt double,” Isbister’s report said.
WorkSafeBC fined TCF Vancouver Productions Ltd. $289,562.63 in early May for lack of appropriate risk management, lack of new worker orientation, inadequate workplace setup and planning, lack of helmet and failure to ensure health and safety of workers. TCF is a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox, now Disney-owned.
The coroner’s report said Harris rehearsed approximately seven times, beginning at 8 a.m., progressing from quarter-speed to half-speed to full-speed of 20 km-h to 25 km-h.
At 8:14 a.m., Harris exited the Vancouver Convention Centre doors and turned left to approach a set of stairs covered with sheets of wood. Video footage and witness accounts indicate Harris lost control as she transitioned onto the first ramp and accelerated, rather than coming to a controlled, planned stop.
“The motorcycle continued over a second transition ramp, at which time the motorcycle became airborne. Ms. Cooke Harris continued to hold onto the handle bars; however, her feet were completely off the foot pegs,” the report said. “The motorcycle continued in a forward direction, entered onto the roadway of Canada Place and struck the raised cement median. Ms. Cooke Harris was ejected from the motorcycle, and she struck a window at the base of Shaw Tower. When the incident happened, Ms. Cooke Harris was not wearing safety headgear.”
Vancouver Police officers on routine set duty called Emergency Health Services, but paramedics were unable to revive Harris and she was declared dead at 8:25 a.m.
WorkSafeBC found that Harris met two days earlier, on Aug. 12, 2017, with a stunt coordinator at Mammoth Studios to assess her motorcycle riding abilities. Harris was experienced at racing certain motorcycles on open race tracks at a high rate of speed and performing high-speed braking. But she was a movie stunt rookie and told a picture car technician that she had never ridden a Ducati.
She trained on-site at the convention centre Aug. 13, 2017 with a stunt coordinator and two different stunt persons. The session focused on practicing on the escalator and by riding a dirt bike down the stairs to the exterior transition ramp. The stunt coordinator determined after observing Harris on the dirt bike that she was able to perform.
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