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"Tears of the Sun" accident press clips

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http://www.tribnet.com/news/local/story/2054756p-2153020c.html

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County skydiver survives accident in California stunt

Eijiro Kawada; The News Tribune

A Kapowsin skydiver doing a stunt during the filming of a movie near Santa Barbara, Calif., walked away from a major accident without an injury Tuesday.

But an Arizona skydiver who participated in the stunt was still missing Wednesday in the ocean along the California coast.


Geoff Farrington, 55, owner of Kapowsin Air Sports, was one of nine skydivers who jumped from a plane 14,000 feet in the air during the filming of "Tears of the Sun," starring Bruce Willis.


Seven skydivers landed on the beach of the Oceano Dune State Vehicular Recreation Area as planned, but Farrington and Arizona skydiver Michael Barber landed in the water, said Andrew Zilke, chief ranger of the state park, north of Santa Barbara on the coast.


Life guards rescued Farrington soon after he entered the water but were still looking for Barber, 39, on Wednesday, Zilke said.


Farrington and his wife, Jesse, run the private Pierce County skydiving school.


Jesse Farrington said she spoke with Geoff on Wednesday morning on the telephone and said he was all right.


She said Barber probably jumped from the plane too late, "and he couldn't reach the shore," Jesse Farrington said.


She said her husband, dressed in military gear for the movie stunt, opened his parachute about 5,000 feet above the water, but Barber waited for another 1,000 feet before opening his. After entering the water, Farrington got rid of his military-style backpack and used his life jacket before a rescue boat picked him up.


In the movie, scheduled to be released in March, a special operations team, led by Willis, undertakes a mission to rescue a doctor in the jungles of Nigeria. But the doctor, played by Monica Bellucci, refuses to leave unless refugees can leave with her.


Movie crews were taking aerial shots of the skydivers, said Suzanne Fritz, spokeswoman for Revolution Studios, which is making the movie. The studio has produced movies such as "Black Hawk Down" and "America's Sweethearts."


The accident hasn't stopped the production of the movie, she said. Fritz said Willis and the director of the movie, Antonie Fuqua, who directed blockbusters including "Training Day" and "The Replacement Killers," were not at the filming when the accident happened.


The Oceano Dune state park has 1,500 acres of beach and sand dunes and often hosts movie shoots, Zilke said. During the filming Tuesday, the park provided seven life guards and three boats as a precaution. A Coast Guard cutter was stationed offshore.


Zilke said the ocean's water temperature has been about 56 degrees.


"If (Barber) remained in the water, it's probably doubtful" that he is alive, Zilke said. "We are still looking."


Jessie Farrington said her husband was due home Wednesday night. Geoff Farrington has done stunts in movies such as "Air Force One" and a Disney picture, "Operation Dumbo Drop."


Eijiro Kawada: 253-597-8633
eijiro.kawada@mail.tribnet.com


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The World's Most Boring Skydiver

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http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,10768,00.html

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Stuntman Dies on Willis Flick

by Josh Grossberg
Oct 31, 2002, 4:00 PM PT

Tragedy has struck the set of Bruce Willis's latest action flick Tears of the Sun.

A skydiver hired for stunt work on the Navy SEALs drama starring Willis and Italian beauty Monica Bellucci, is presumed dead Thursday after disappearing in the Pacific Ocean.

Michael Barber, 39, was one of nine parachutists who leaped from a plane cruising as high as 14,000 above the California coast for a stunt. The stuntmen were supposed to land at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area at Pismo Beach, 180 miles north of Los Angeles.

But even with calm winds, two of the men veered off course as they neared their target and ended up landing in deep water some 300 yards off the coast.

"They all jumped at basically the same time, and were supposed to land at basically the same location," Andrew Zilke, Oceano Dunes' chief ranger told the Associated Press.

The Coast Guard was able to retrieve one of the men, but despite a platoon of helicopters, boats and small watercraft joining in the search, Barber could not be found. The rescue efforts were complicated by rough surf churned up by high winds.

As of Thursday, rescue workers had changed the focus of the mission from search and rescue to recovering the Phoenix native's body.

Because Barber was a member of the Screen Actor's Guild, the union indicated it was sending representatives to investigate the accident.

"The guild investigates all claims that are submitted to the department to make sure productions are in compliance with safety rules," said SAG spokeswoman Ilyanne Kichaven.

Tears of the Sun, which is being produced by Revolution Studios and most likely will get a name change to Man of War, stars Willis as a special-ops commander who leads his team into the jungle of Nigeria to rescue a doctor, who will only go with them if they agree to rescue 70 refugee children.

Neither Willis nor director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) was present at the time of the shoot, which was being done by a second unit.

"We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Mike Barber. This is a devastating event for all involved," Revolution said in a statement, adding that the company is fully cooperating with investigators.

Revolution said most of the film was already in the can when the accident occurred.

Barber's death is the latest deadly accident to befall a major Hollywood motion picture. In March of 2001, a welder was killed while working on the set of Sony's blockbuster Spider-Man.


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http://abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s716244.htm

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Rescuers search for stuntman lost while making Willis flick
Dozens of rescuers are combing the California coast to search for the body of a stuntman who was lost while filming a scene for a Bruce Willis movie this week.

Stuntman Michael Barber was among nine people who parachuted from a plane on Tuesday local time, during the filming of Tears of the Sun, in a scene in which they were to have landed on Pismo Beach, which lies between Los Angeles and San Francisco. But Barber, who was wearing a marine camouflage wetsuit, and another stuntman drifted off-course, landing about 270-360 metres offshore.
While the other stuntman was rescued, Barber could not be found.

Rescuers say given the elapsed time, there is little chance the actor will be found alive and the rescue operation has become a recovery effort. "Survivability diminishes over time," State Parks chief ranger Andrew Zilke said. "At this point, if he's still in the water, it's doubtful" that he is still alive, he said.

A sheriff's department dive team, fire rescue teams and harbour patrol boats were scrambled to find the 39-year-old stuntman, but without success.

Willis is starring as a special operations commander who leads a team to the Nigerian jungle to rescue a woman doctor in his latest action film, which is being produced by Revolution Studios. However, Willis was not at the movie location when the accident took place, officials said.


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The World's Most Boring Skydiver

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mike was a great skydiver one of the best instructors i have ever had the pleaser to not only jump with but to learn from. he taught me to how to keep my head when the shit hits the fan, he also taught me to pack and was their for any other jumper that just happen to be at the dz with a question. he loved to skydive and he will be greatly missed.
the one memory that stands out about mike, that describes mike the best: one day after the beer light was on myself and 5 of the instructors at parachute phoenix were standing around just b.s.ing and the subject turned to mike, and one of the other instructors stated that mike should get an award for best instructor. that thought has always crossed my mind everytime i have seen mike or had the privlage to jump with him. We lost a great teacher, fellow skydiver and a good friend this week.
blue skies brother.
if fun were easy it wouldn't be worth having, right?

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Wow, this hits close to home, I am a student at Kapowsin and talk with Jesse and Geoff all the time...I heard about this earlier in the week but had no idea Geoff was involved...wow..[:/]



Wow, I feel the same. I did my skydives at Kapowsin. What a sad event for the lost skydiver and his family and friends.

J


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Sometimes we're just being Humans.....But we're always Human Beings.

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But even with calm winds, two of the men veered off course as they neared their target and ended up landing in deep water some 300 yards off the coast.

"They all jumped at basically the same time, and were supposed to land at basically the same location," Andrew Zilke, Oceano Dunes' chief ranger told the Associated Press.

The Coast Guard was able to retrieve one of the men, but despite a platoon of helicopters, boats and small watercraft joining in the search, Barber could not be found. The rescue efforts were complicated by rough surf churned up by high winds.



Hmmm, first the report says calm winds then two paragraphs later it says high winds. Typical...

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Eric --

It's possible that both statements are true for a couple of reasons.

It is possible for the winds and weather to change fairly rapidly. Jumping at Perris you -must- know this. ;)

Also, it's possible that the high-winds that churned up the surf were quite a bit farther off-shore. That's ususally what makes waves; wind, storms -- stuff like that.
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http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20021101&Category=APN&ArtNo=211011072&Ref=AR

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Body of Phoenix stuntman found on Oceano beach

The Associated Press

The body of a stuntman who had been missing since parachuting into the Pacific Ocean during filming of a Bruce Willis movie was recovered Friday, officials said.

The body of Michael Kent Barber, 39, was found shortly after 7 a.m. on Oceano Dunes State Beach, said Lt. L.R. Davis of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department.

Barber, a Phoenix resident, disappeared Tuesday afternoon after jumping among nine skydivers from an airplane 14,000 feet above the ocean.

All were supposed to land on a beach about 180 miles north of Los Angeles, but two landed in deep water about 300 yards offshore. The other skydiver was quickly rescued, but Barber could not be found.

Divers and searchers in a helicopter suspended their rescue efforts late Wednesday and officials started a search for his body.

The crew from Revolution Studios was filming scenes for a movie tentatively titled "Tears of the Sun," officials said.

Willis, who was not at Tuesday's filming, plays the commander of a military unit sent to Africa on a search-and-rescue mission.

The other parachutist who landed in the ocean was rescued by the Coast Guard.

The cause of Barber's death will not be known until an autopsy is conducted, Davis said.


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The World's Most Boring Skydiver

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For those of us not from Cali.. how large of a search area would they have had to look in to find him earlier based on the spot he entered the water to where he was found?

And blue skies to him....
Yesterday is history
And tomorrow is a mystery

Parachutemanuals.com

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According to the articles, they found the body at Oceano Dunes, which is also where the jumpers were supposed to land to begin with. It is unclear from reading the articles exactly how far it would have been from the target to where they found the body.

HERE is a TopoZone map of the area. The area they're talking about is listed as "Pismo Dunes . . . " on this map. About 2/3 of the way to the bottom of the page, along the coast. The total length of the beach looks to be about 8 to 10 miles.
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I know this is an old thread, ut I have a question or two.

When jumping near water (or where a water landing is a distinct possibility) I understand that you need certain training and extra gear (flotation device etc, dunno about the US regulations that much as I live in Denmark).

It seems from the articles as if they had problems locating Mr Geoff. did they have a visual on him as he splashed down and then lost it?

I'm wondering if a scuba diving strobe (or similar device) might not be a good idea if you jump at beaches/near water? It's a small piece of gear, relatively inexpensive, easy to operate and durable and it makes you quite visible. If it's too bright for a strobe, there are other devices that also achieve the same result.

Maybe such a thing is mandatory in the US (haven't read your SIM from end to end) but if it isn't, why not? Are there any safety concerns? I'd doubt it, as it's about the size of a cell phone and easily can be stowed in a pocket. So if it isn't mandatory, is it not a good idea to carry one anyway? If not; why not?

One of the DZs I jump from is right next to a body of water (heh, what we call a fjord, even though technically it ain't). It's far enough away for us not to need flotation devices according to the regulations, but it's not unheard of that some jumpers make an out landing on an island in the middle of the fjord (see attached pic). The potential for the water landing is there - any reason why I should not add some kind of signalling device to my gear?



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