Producers behind new civil rights drama Selma are facing questions over on set safety procedures after a crew member allegedly suffered a near-fatal electrocution while working on the film.
Lighting technician Ronnie Sands claims he had been in a time crunch while installing an 18,000 watt bulb on the Atlanta, Georgia set on June 4 when someone reportedly connected the plug into the main power source, despite warnings from Sands.
His fiancee, Kelly Shure, tells local Atlanta news station Channel 2, “That’s when Ronnie was hit with the voltage and the arc of light that hit him in the face. Everyone just started announcing on the radios, ‘Man down! Man electrocuted!'”
Sands adds to Deadline, “I am very lucky to be alive.”
He received treatment from an on-set medic, who had him admitted to a nearby emergency room for treatment.
Doctors determined the massive shock caused him painful headaches, memory loss and blurred vision and Shure claims her beau is still struggling with nerve damage, which has prevented him from working.
She says, “He’s just very traumatized and we’re still trying to find the answers.”
Shure filed a complaint with U.S. officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in November, but was told last week that they were unable to inspect the set circumstances as the movie, directed by Ava DuVernay, had already wrapped months before.
Producers are not required by federal law to file an incident report with the OSHA unless a work-related accident results in death or three or more employees are hospitalized.
Sands has been able to obtain worker’s compensation to help him through his recovery, but he is still demanding action and answers from Selma film bosses, who claim they are working with insurers to get to the bottom of the incident.
A spokesperson for the movie production tells Deadline:
“We are all deeply affected by injuries that occur in the workplace. After all, these involve our friends and colleagues. Any such incidents are promptly notified to the production insurers and are then reviewed by the loss adjustors. This is the process on which we are currently embarked.”
Deadline editors allege Sands wasn’t the only Selma crew member to suffer an on-set accident – a set dresser fell through a roof while working in Montgomery, Alabama, while a number of extras reportedly suffered heat exhaustion while filming a rally scene in sweltering conditions.
Selma, which has emerged as an awards season favorite, stars British actor David Oyelowo as civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 1965 voting reform marches in Alabama.
Oprah Winfrey also co-stars and serves as the film’s co-producer.
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures