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Stuntman Is Killed in 3-Story Fall for TV Show

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A stuntman died early Saturday from head injuries after plunging 57 feet from a Department of Water and Power power-plant platform during the filming of a police drama.

The dead man was identified as Paul Dallas, 34, of Canyon Country.

Police said Dallas struck his head after landing on the edge of the air bag that was supposed to have broken his three-story fall from the platform Friday night.

“He was ejected backward,” said Los Angeles Police Sgt. Pete Weinhold of the Foothill Division. “The back of his head hit a metal railing.”

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Dallas was taken to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, where he died at 4:15 a.m. of massive head injuries, hospital spokeswoman Shireen Gandhi-Kozel said.

“He was in full cardiac arrest when he arrived,” Gandhi-Kozel said. “The hospital did revive him and try to administer treatment, but his injuries were too extensive.”

Dallas was fatally injured while performing a stunt for a television drama series, “L.A. Heat.” The series was filming Friday night at the DWP’s Valley Generating Station at 11801 Sheldon St. in Sun Valley.

DWP spokesman Walter Zeisl said the utility’s facilities are frequently used as movie sets, as it is the city’s policy to cooperate with filmmakers.

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Zeisl identified the production company for the show as P. M. Entertainment, a Sun Valley company.

No one from the company was available for comment Saturday.

In May, the entertainment industry trade paper Variety described “L.A. Heat” as a Wolf Larson Series that focuses on two disparate Los Angeles cops and their approaches to fighting crime.

Police said the stuntman’s death is listed as an accident pending further investigation.

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Questions on film set safety were most recently raised by the December 1995 death of Woodland Hills stuntwoman Janet Wilder, 29, in Florida.

Wilder died when a boat stunt went awry while making the Disney film “Gone Fishin’.”

While minor negligence was found to have contributed to Wilder’s death, there was insufficient evidence of recklessness to pursue criminal charges, Florida prosecutors said.

Dallas’ death was eerily similar to an accident that claimed the life of 32-year-old stuntwoman Sonja Davis in 1994.

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Davis fell 47 feet from a downtown Los Angeles apartment building while filming Paramount Pictures’ “Vampire in Brooklyn,” but did not land squarely on the air bag below. The air bag reacted like a huge balloon, causing her to bounce and slam into a wall.

From mid-1990 to mid-1995, 18 people in California died while making films, television shows and commercials.

At least four deaths were reported in the industry in 1995.

Government statistics do not distinguish between stunt injuries and other types of workplace accidents in the film industry.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the motion picture industry in 1994 had an injury rate 2.9%, far below the rate of 8.4% for all private industry.


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