During a intense action scene an accident took place that caused actor Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen to lose their lives.
Movie Set Tragedy
Directed by John Landis, the segment "Time Out" concerned Morrows character, William Conner, a bigot and racist who finds himself whisked to different eras, where he essentially gets a taste of his own medicine. On this July night, Vic Morrow and the two child actors were to shoot a scene where Morrows character was to save the children from US helicopter raiding a Vietnamese village.
Everything was set and Morrow waited in a shelter with the two child actors under his arms, ready for the scene to roll. Morrow had to run and stumble through a stream with the children under his arms to safety - a helicopter followed them as planted charges caused explosions and gun fire in the water and village around them.
Vic Morrow and the two children did not see the helicopter coming as it spun out of control. The main rotor smashed into the water first followed by the body spraying water and parts of the vehicle all over.
The cameras continued to roll as staff and crew rushed to the aid of the actors and the stunt pilot.
The pilot was fine, only suffering a few minor injuries, but the actors were not so lucky. Morrow and Myca were decapitated and mutilated by the main rotor of the helicopter and Renee was crushed by the skids. All died instantly and the accident was recorded from three camera angles.
Vic Morrow was 53, Myca Dinh Le 7 and Renee Shin-Ye Chen 6.
Director John Landis, Producer Steven Spielberg, the pilot and the explosive specialist were all charged with involuntary manslaughter. Even though so many breaches of law and contract were found - breaking child labour laws (the children should not have been working at 2:30am), much of the support crew (i.e. safety and fire officers) were not told children would be on set, and the parents told not to tell anyone - all were acquitted of the charges.
The parents of Myca and Renee, and Morrow's children (he had two daughters Carrie Morrow and Jennifer Jason Lee) all sued, but settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
In the script, Vic Morrow was set to deliver a line to the children following this scene. Many people who have looked into this tragedy say the movie was cursed, and Morrow's inability to present this final line adds an eerie undertone to the event:
“I’ll keep you safe, kids. I promise. Nothing will hurt you, I swear to God.”