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On Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Thursday night death of a crewmember on the Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania set of Sony’s untitled Mr. Rogers biopic, starring Tom Hanks.
“That investigation was opened today,” a spokesperson for the Labor Department, which investigates workplace related accidents, told The Hollywood Reporter.
James Emswiller, a 61-year-old sound mixer from Pittsburgh — also the home of the legendary PBS icon Fred Rogers — was apparently taking a smoke break on the roof of a building when he fell over a brick wall and plummeted two stories to his death, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
Locals rushed to the scene to help and medics arrived shortly thereafter to administer CPR. A local CBS affiliate reported that Emswiller may have suffered a heart attack. He was taken to the local UPMC Hospital, where he later died.
OSHA investigators will have six months to conduct their investigation and issue a report. As of Friday afternoon, it was unclear whether investigators had arrived at the set yet.
“If OSHA uncovers violations of any sort, citations will be issued,” said a spokesperson. OSHA will be looking at Emswiller’s employer, TriStar Pictures, said the spokesperson.
Sony Pictures, which will release the film, issued a statement: “This is a devastating tragedy and the studio is investigating the matter. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s loved ones, friends, and colleagues.”
The film stars Hanks as Fred Rogers, the iconic host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired on PBS for decades. Rogers, who died in 2003, testified before Congress in 1969 to advocate for the show, and the network, which was facing budgetary cuts at the time.
Marielle Heller is directing, based off a screenplay by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. Big Beach Films’ Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf are producing, with help from Youree Henley and Leah Holzer.
A documentary about Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
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