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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The widow of the crew member who died after falling on the set of the new Mr. Rogers’ movie filming in Mount Lebanon is speaking out about her husband’s impact in both the Pittsburgh and film communities.
The tragic accident happened at an apartment building on Shady Drive East. The movie production crew was in Mount Lebanon for a second day filming an interior apartment scene for the movie, “You Are My Friend,” starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers.
James Emswiller, 61, of Pittsburgh, was a member of the sound crew.
He and his wife, Beth Amber, would have been celebrating 26 years of marriage next April. She says her husband had a love for film.
She said he didn’t only work on set for local productions, but traveled all over the United States to work on well-known movies.
“I’m just in shock, as everyone in the family is,” said Amber.
Instead of looking forward to another anniversary, she is planning her husband’s funeral.
Emswiller was pronounced dead at the hospital after falling from a second-story balcony of the Mount Lebanon apartment building during a smoke break.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Emswiller’s death an accident, and said he died from blunt impact injuries to the head and torso.
“Apparently, he must have been leaning on the railing, which he enjoyed doing on our deck. He would lean on the railing and smoke a cigarette,” Amber said.
Emswiller, a Homestead native and Taylor Allderdice grad, was an Emmy Award-winning sound mixer.
Amber was in Los Angeles when he won the Emmy in 2015 for the HBO movie, “Bessie,” starring Queen Latifah.
“It was over the top, I have to tell you. I’ve never seen Jim so excited in my whole life,” she said.
KDKA’s Amy Wadas Reports:
Emswiller was also an elected state constable, and he loved to be outdoors.
“Jim was my best friend. My best friend, my husband, my lover, my partner in life,” Amber said. “A loss for me, I can’t put that into words.”
But she says her husband died doing what he loves.
“He was doing what he liked to do. It made him happy. Even when it stressed him out, it made him happy,” she said.
Emswiller also leaves behind a stepdaughter. His wife says he treated her like his own.
The family is in the process of planning funeral arrangements. Details of that have yet to be released.
Both the Pittsburgh Film Office and Sony Pictures released statements saying the incident is under investigation and thoughts and prayers are with Emswiller’s family, friends and co-workers.