The cause of death of James Emswiller, the Emmy-winning sound mixer who died on the set of Tom Hanks' Mr. Rogers movie You Are My Friend, has been revealed.
A representative for the Allegheny County Medical Examiner told The Blast that the 61-year-old Emswiller died from blunt force injuries to his head and torso after he fell from a two-story building. His death was ruled accidental.
Although it was speculated that Emsiller suffered a heart attack for the fall, the medical examiner said they could not determine if this happened before or after the accident. Hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease were listed as contributing factors to his death.
Emswiller fell from a balcony he was standing on during a break in filming. Other crew members reportedly heard him fall and found Emswiller laying on the ground unconscious. A nurse on the set at the time tried to save the man, but he was in cardiac arrest once paramedics arrived.
"All of a sudden, all of these lights were just everywhere, and they started inching closer toward us shining into the bar, and I was like. 'What is happening out there?' And there was just people everywhere, people on the curb sitting," witness Vince Passerini told CBS News. "We asked, 'What's happening inside?' And they said they're making a Mr. Rogers movie or something."
"There were a bunch of fire trucks, like maybe two of three ambulances, it was a large commotion, everyone was staring," another witness, Sarah Pfabe, added. "We saw one ambulance leave; they had the lights on but not the siren."
After the accident, production stopped for the day. Hanks was reportedly on set at the time of the accident.
Emswiller's death is being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Sony Pictures and Tri-Star are also investigating.
"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 studio said.
Emswiller was from Pittsburgh. He won an Emmy in 2015 for his work on the HBO movie Bessie. He also worked as a sound mixer on Love The Coopers, Foxcatcher, The Fault In Our Stars and The Avengers.
You Are My Friend is being directed by Marielle Heller and stars Hanks as Fred Rogers, the late host of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper, Wendy Makkena and Susan Kelechi Watson also star. It is scheduled for release on Oct. 18, 2019, and is being filmed in Rogers' native Pennsylvania.
Photo credit: Tri-Star Pictures