Authorities say a crew member working on a movie about Mister Rogers has died after he suffered an apparent medical emergency and fell two storeys off a balcony in western Pennsylvania.
Allegheny County police say James Emswiller fell around 7:30 p.m. Thursday during a break in filming. The 61-year-old Pittsburgh man died in the hospital approximately an hour after his fall.
Emswiller was involved in the sound production of You Are My Friend, which was shooting a scene in Mount Lebanon. The film is based on the life of Fred Rogers, the genial host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
“Basically, he appears to have suffered from a medical emergency while on the balcony,” Mt. Lebanon police Chief Aaron Lauth told People. “He was taking a break and smoking a cigarette when he fell.”
“He fell from the second storey of the building. Other crew members were inside the building, but not on the balcony. They noticed he wasn’t there and saw him down on the ground,” he continued.
Mount Lebanon police say Emswiller fell over a brick wall on the balcony at an apartment building.
Film star Tom Hanks, who is playing Rogers in the movie, was at the site and later left. Filming was cancelled for the evening.
“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,” Sony Pictures/Tri-Star Pictures said in a statement.
Emswiller won an Emmy in 2015 for outstanding sound mixing for a limited series or a movie for HBO’s Bessie.
— With files from the Associated Press