'Outrage' After Student Cinematographer Dies

Chapman University mourns the 'brilliant' Peng Wang, killed in rollover crash
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2022 11:19 AM CDT
'Outrage' After Student Cinematographer Dies
This photo, circa 2017, shows an EMS Park Ranger Rescue vehicle at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in California.   (Wikimedia Commons/Michelle Puckett, BLM)

A student cinematographer at Chapman University was killed Friday while riding sand dunes with film students from the University of Southern California, which has only added to concerns about a lack of safety protocols on film sets. The 29-year-old was acting as cinematographer on a USC production, though it's unclear if he or others were capturing footage at the time, the Los Angeles Times reports. CBS News reports students from Loyola Marymount University and the New York Film Academy were also on scene when an off-road vehicle rolled while climbing a large sand dune in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area just before 1pm Friday.

The three other riders from USC, including the driver, survived. They were wearing safety harnesses, but the Chapman student, who was partially ejected, was not, says a California Highway Patrol rep. Stephen Galloway, dean of Chapman's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, identified the deceased as Peng Wang, a third-year graduate student from China who worked on Daemon, a drama short that received an honorable mention at the 2020 Los Angeles Film Awards. He was "very close to" and "loved" by "all our cinematography faculty," he told CBS. "I cannot imagine anything worse than a terrifically talented, brilliant young cinematographer dying on a production," Galloway continued in a statement, per the Times.

He said he was "outraged that safety measures were not in place on this" as they are for Chapman-related productions. "In this case, we had a student who volunteered on an independent project and we have no control over those," he added. In a later statement, Elizabeth Daley, dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, said the film school has "very strict safety policies that all students are trained in and expected to follow at all times" and "does not tolerate violations." She did not specify why the students were on the sand dune, noting "we are still gathering information about how this tragic accident occurred." Peng would've graduated at the end of this semester, per CBS. (More Chapman University stories.)

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