In their first public comments since two of their actors were killed, producers of the Millarworld comic book adaptation “The Chosen One” called the tragedy “an unfortunate accident.”
Two actors on the Netflix series, an adaptation of the comic “American Jesus,” were killed and six other cast or crew members injured after the van they were riding in crashed on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula last Thursday.
RedRum, the production company behind the show, said the group had an accident while in transit from Santa Rosalía, Baja California, to the local airport, and there were no signs that any safety measures had been breached.
Local media reported that the van flipped after running off the road Thursday in a desert area near Mulege, southeast of Santa Rosalía.
Production was halted, according to a person with knowledge of the show who was not authorized to speak publicly.
“All of us on the production of ‘The Chosen One’ are shocked by the tragic accident,” the production company said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our colleagues Ray Garduño and Juan Francisco González and are closely supporting all those affected by this unspeakable tragedy. Redrum has been cooperating with local authorities and initial reports and accounts from witnesses indicate that all safety protocols were in place and this was an unfortunate accident.”
Netflix issued a brief statement Monday, saying, “Our thoughts are with their loved ones and with those injured during this unfortunate accident.”
The public comments from the makers of the show are the first since the tragedy last week.
Former colleagues of the actors took to social media to commemorate them. Several posters called for an investigation into the accident. One said that actors on the set had complained about transportation issues, including tired drivers.
Yeray Albelda, a 37-year-old actor, was one of the van’s passengers. He said that the crew members had been taking off for a week-and-a-half-long break and that at least several other passengers — including the two who died in the crash — were planning to spend it at home in Tijuana.
At one point, they stopped for burritos. The crash occurred several hours into the drive, said Albelda, who sustained fractures on his skull and collarbone and has no memory of the accident.
Albelda arrived in Santa Rosalía in early June to work on the set. He said that he hadn’t heard complaints about tired drivers and that fresh drivers would work while others rested.
“I never saw anything strange,” he said. “I never saw flat tires or exposed cables.”
But Albelda said that some people working on the series did complain about having to be driven more than two hours to get to the film set because they couldn’t get a hotel room in the area.
Although rare, accidents on film sets have been on the rise as production has boomed and crews have worked longer hours. Crews have been fighting for decades for unions and studies to recognize the risks of long hours and commuting while tired. Crews can often work 12- to 14-hour days.
In 1997, assistant camera operator Brent Hershman died after falling asleep at the wheel of his car as he was driving home from a 19-hour workday on the Long Beach set of the movie “Pleasantville.”
“The Chosen One” was one of the latest adaptations from Netflix’s 2017 acquisition of comic book company Millarworld, a deal it pursued to tap into demand for superhero-related content. The aim was to adapt characters from the publisher’s titles into shows, films and kids’ content to stream on Netflix.