The tragic accident that took the life of a security guard on the Canadian set of TNT’s Falling Skies in 2014 could have been prevented, according to the accident report of WorkSafe BC, British Columbia’s Workers’ Compensation Board, which just concluded its investigation of the incident.
Amrik Singh Gill, a Teamster, had been guarding a five-ton truck as a camera crane was being unloaded at a film location in Vancouver on the night of September 15, 2014. Suddenly, five minutes after it had been parked and left unattended on a 6% sloping hillside road, there was a loud hiss as the cube van’s parking brake failed, and it began to roll backward, the sharp edge of its lowered tailgate pinning Gill against a tree.
The truck’s driver, who was on the tailgate helping to unload the equipment, was thrown to the ground, and a quick-thinking co-worker jumped into the cab, released the parking brake, and drove the truck forward to free Gill. Another worker administered first aid, but to no avail. Rushed to nearby Royal Columbian Hospital, Gill was pronounced dead less than 45 minutes later. He was 59.
The accident report, obtained by Deadline (read it here), says that the failure of the truck’s parking brake was “the causal factor in this incident.” But there were other contributing factors as well.
The truck and its braking system had passed a safety inspection five months earlier, and the vehicle had only been driven 20 miles before the day of the accident. But a government investigation two days later found that the truck’s parking brake was “out of adjustment” and that there was an “active brake fluid leak” at the left rear brake. The report, which also found that the truck had a low brake fluid reservoir, concluded that “any one of the three faults discovered rendered the cube van un-roadworthy.”
The report also found that the unidentified driver failed to place blocks behind the truck’s wheels to prevent it from rolling downhill in the event of a parking brake failure. It also found that although there were leveling blocks in the truck – which could have been used as wheel blocks but weren’t – the truck was not equipped with wheel chocks to prevent it from rolling.
“The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation requires that operators of mobile equipment not leave the controls unattended unless the equipment has been secured against inadvertent movement, such as by setting the parking brake, placing the transmission in the manufacturer’s specified park position and chocking the wheels where necessary,” the report said. “In this case, chocking the wheels would have prevented the incident from occurring when the parking brake failed. Truck driver failed to use the levelling block as a chock even though it was available in the belly bin of the cube van.”
According to the report, “A failure to chock the wheels of the cube van was an underlying factor in this incident,” as was the “failure of the truck owner to check the condition of the cube van and supply proper safety equipment.”
The report states that after the accident, the show’s production company, Invasion Productions, placed signs in all of its production vehicles to “remind drivers to use wheel chocks when parked.” According to the report, the company also amended its internal policy to require all transport drivers to use wheel chocks with transportation equipment. “The policy also states that regular visual inspections should be conducted to ensure that wheel chocks are used.”
The alien-invasion dram Falling Skies, produced by Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks TV, ended its five-year run a year after the accident. Gill’s widow, Balwinder Gill, told Deadline that no one from the show attended her husband’s funeral, but some of the actors sent flowers.
“No one came,” she said. “No one cared enough to come talk to us about it.” She said representatives from the BC Teamsters local, of which her husband was a member, did come to his funeral, and that the local paid her $18,000 in death benefits. She said she gets by on about $1,350 a month, which includes her own disability check and her husband’s Workers’ Comp stipend.
“He was a very nice, very caring man,” she said. “People always remembered him.”
No criminal charges were brought against anyone involved. “Our investigation ruled out criminality as outlined in the Criminal Code of Canada,” said a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.