Hutchins’s family alleges “reckless behavior and cost cutting” by Baldwin, producers, and crew members led to the tragedy.
The tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on October 21 on the set of Rust was more than the horrific loss of a young, talented filmmaker — it also revealed gaping oversights in crew safety and set protocols that Hollywood needs to address. Now, Hutchins’s family is seeking damages in a wrongful death lawsuit that aims to hold people accountable. The suit names Alec Baldwin as a defendant, along with producers Ryan Smith, Allen Cheney, Nathan Klingher, Ryan Winterstern, Anjul Nigam, Matthew DelPiano, and Emily Salveson, and crew members Sarah Zachry, Dave Halls, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, Gabrielle Pickle, and Seth Kenney, among others.
Hutchins was shot by what was declared a “cold gun” — set jargon for a prop gun that has no ammunition, including blanks — by first assistant director Dave Halls, after set armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed loaded the Colt .45 with what she deemed to be dummy rounds. Gutierrez Reed has also sued Seth Kenney, the ammunition supplier, for mixing live rounds with what should have been dummy rounds. The script supervisor, a gaffer and the set medic have all also filed their own lawsuits. The gun was in Baldwin’s hand when it fired, but he insists that he did not pull the trigger. Hutchins was shot in the torso and airlifted to nearby Albuquerque, where she later died. Director Joel Souza was also hit by the bullet in the shoulder, but survived his injuries.
Hutchins is survived by her husband Matthew and the couple’s 9-year-old son, Andros. Hutchins’s family attorney, Brian Panish, said at a press conference, “[Matthew] lost his long-term wife who was the love of his life, and his son lost a mother...It never should have happened.” So far in the tragic saga, it has come across that Baldwin and above-the-line producers want to spin Hutchins’s death as a “workplace accident,” which could protect those involved from suits because those situations are handled by state workers compensation. But investigations have revealed that what happened that day was a byproduct of a set that was already mired in gross mishandling of safety.
Just before Hutchins was shot, a half-dozen of the camera crew reportedly walked off set due to poor safety conditions and general disrespect to below-the-line workers. The LA Times reported that camera crew were facing “long hours, long commutes and waiting for their paychecks,” issues that might sound more innocent but greatly contribute to poor set safety when the crew is tired from absurd working schedules and already upset with working conditions.
Baldwin's stunt double had already accidentally fired two rounds from a gun that was supposed to be cold, a bad situation that went unexamined as filming continued. An unnamed crew member told The LA Times, “There should have been an investigation into what happened. There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.” Parish continued in the press conference that it was Baldwin and others responsible, “whose reckless behavior and cost-cutting led to the senseless and tragic death of Halyna Hutchins.” Hopefully, this lawsuit can get some semblance of justice for Halyna Hutchins and hold those responsible accountable, no matter their place in the Hollywood machine.
This story has been updated to correctly reflect the name of Matthew and Halyna’s son.