'Devastating Tragedy' on Set of Mister Rogers Film

Crew member James Emswiller, 61, dies after falling off 2nd-floor balcony in Mount Lebanon, Pa.
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2018 11:28 AM CDT
This combination photo shows Fred Rogers in 1989, left, and Tom Hanks.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Sad news out of Pennsylvania, where a biopic about Fred Rogers (aka "Mister Rogers") is filming. WPXI and the AP report that a 61-year-old crew member for You Are My Friend has died after falling off a second-story balcony at a Mount Lebanon apartment building. Police say James Emswiller, described as a sound mixer on his IMDb page, had gone out onto the balcony for a smoke in between shooting scenes for the film and apparently plummeted over the balcony's brick wall about 7:30pm Thursday. No one saw him fall, but others nearby heard a sound and soon discovered Emswiller on the ground below.

"He appears to have suffered from a medical emergency while on the balcony," Mount Lebanon Chief of Police Aaron Lauth tells People. Emswiller was initially listed in serious condition, but he soon deteriorated and was pronounced dead at a local hospital about an hour after the fall. He had previously done work on The Avengers and Jack Reacher, per his IMDb creds; the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes he won an Emmy for the TV movie Bessie in 2015. "This is a devastating tragedy and the studio is investigating the matter," Sony Pictures/TriStar Pictures said in a statement to USA Today. Tom Hanks, who stars as Rogers, was reportedly on the set Thursday and left after the incident.

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