In the wee hours of July 23, 1982 while filming a scene which required Morrow to carry two children (in real life 7 year old Mcya Dihn Le and 6 year old Renee Shin-Yi Chen) across a shallow riverbed while a helicopter loomed over their heads and explosions were set off all around something went terribly wrong. According to the official report:
"The probable cause of the accident was the detonation of debris-laden high temperature special effects explosions too near a low flying helicopter leading to foreign object damage to one rotor blade and delamination due to heat to the other rotor blade, the separation of the helicopter's tail rotor assembly, and the uncontrolled descent of the helicopter."
Morrow and one of the children were decapitated by the helicopter's rotor blades as is crashed to the ground. The other child was crushed beneath it. The accident stunned Hollywood and brought to light the shady practices some producers and directors would use to get their movies made. The two children who died had no buisness being on any set at 2:30 in the morning never mind one where so many pyrotechnics were being utilized. Landis had smuggled them to the location and kept them hidden until it was time for their scene. He also was paying them under the table to avoid drawing any union or State of California attention to them.
Ultimately Landis and a score of others who were party to the accident were aquitted of manslaughter and child endangerment charges in 1987. In fact no one went to jail as a result of the accident in spite of the fact that the official report had made it pretty clear that someone had made some very serious errors in judgement which lead to the crash. The families of Morrow and the two children ultimately settled out of court for undisclosed amounts.
|Vic Morrow (center) carries Mcya Dihn Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen seconds before fatal accident.|