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‘Are We Rehearsing?’ On-Set Medic Recounts Devastating Details In Fatal Shooting Of ‘Rust’ Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins
Medic Cheryln Schaefer rushed to the scene to treat cinematographer Halyna Hutchins after she was accidentally shot in the chest by actor Alec Baldwin, but it wasn't enough to save the 42-year-old cinematographer.
Cherlyn Schaefer had been working as the film’s medic on duty when she heard a “loud shot” near a church building where the crew had been setting up a scene after a lunch break, according to a report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
“Are we rehearsing? Because ‘fire in the hole’ wasn’t called,” Schaefer recounted in the report.
Schaefer said she rushed into the church building after someone said there was a “medic emergency” and arrived to find two people—Hutchins, who was serving as the film’s director of photography, and director Joel Souza—had been shot while rehearsing a scene from the movie.
Investigators have said the prop gun discharged while actor Alec Baldwin was practicing a “cross draw” with what he had been told was a “cold gun,” or weapon without any live ammunition, according to a search warrant obtained by Oxygen.com.
Souza, who was struck in the shoulder, survived, but Hutchins ultimately died from the wound to the chest.
After arriving on the scene, Schaefer tended to Hutchins, applying pressure, giving her supplemental oxygen and checking her vital signs, according to the report.
Once emergency responders arrived, Schaefer helped load Hutchins onto a gurney before the 42-year-old was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
In the area of the report asking for the “detailed cause” of the injury, Schaefer wrote that “’Something’ was shot from a prop gun.”
Although Juan R. Rios, a spokesman for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office, told Oxygen.com that he could “neither confirm nor deny” reports that the gun had contained a live round, the search warrant seemed confirm that account, stating that assistant director David Halls “did not know live rounds were in the prop gun” when he passed it to Baldwin.
Armorer Hannah Gutierrez had “set up” three “prop guns” on a cart outside the church before Halls grabbed one of the weapons and delivered it to Baldwin, according to the search warrant.
Although Souza told investigators that there “should never be live rounds whatsoever, near or around the scene,” he said he wasn’t sure whether the weapon had been re-checked after a lunch break.
Hutchins’ tragic death has sent shockwaves through Hollywood and prompted many to call for reforms on movie sets to improve safety for cast and crew members.
In a emotional account of the shooting posted on Facebook by Serge Svetnoy—who had served as an electrician on the film and was holding Hutchins “in my arms while she was dying”—he placed blame on “unprofessionalism” on the set.
“I want to tell my opinion on why this has happened. I think I have the right to do it. It's the fault of negligence and unprofessionalism,” he wrote. “The negligence from the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it. And the DEATH OF THE HUMAN IS THE RESULT!”
Svetnoy had worked with Hutchins throughout her career and considered her a friend.
“Yes, I knew Halyna, not for a year. I worked with Her on almost all of her films,” he wrote. “Sometimes we've shared food and water. We've been burning under the sun, freezing in the snow on the shoots. We took care of each other. Yes, I can say with 100% confidence she was my friend.”
He also called out producers in the industry saying that the cast and crew’s safety needs to be taken into account before a film’s budgetary demands.
“We have a fascinating and amazing job, but it's also dangerous. We film in the mountains, in the open water, underwater. We have explosions, shooting guns, car crashes, electricity after all, and much more,” he wrote. “To save a dime sometimes, you hire people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job, and you risk the lives of the other people who are close and your lives as well.”
He ended the post by honoring Hutchins—who left behind a husband and 9-year-old son.
“We all loved Halyna. May God Bless her soul. Rest in Peace. And God protect Us All,” he said.
To date, no charges have been filed in connection with the fatal shooting. The sheriff’s office is expected to provide an update on the case at a press conference Wednesday morning.