MOUNT LEBANON, Pa. (KDKA) – A crew member working on the new Mr. Rogers movie has died after possibly suffering a heart attack and falling two stories in Mount Lebanon.
The incident occurred in the 700 block of Shady Drive around 7:30 p.m., where crews are filming, “You Are My Friend,” a film based on the life of Pittsburgh icon Fred Rogers.
The man has been identified as 61-year-old James Emswiller, of Pittsburgh. He was a member of the sound crew.
#BREAKING: Mt. Lebanon Police say they think James Emswiller stepped outside for a smoke break when he may have suffered a heart attack and fell from the balcony.
— Meghan Schiller (@MeghanKDKA) October 12, 2018
In 2015, Emswiller won an Emmy for outstanding sound mixing for a limited series or a movie for the HBO production of “Bessie.”
The movie production crew was in Mount Lebanon for the second day filming an interior apartment scene for the movie at 769 Shady Drive East in Mt Lebanon. Police say the crew was on a break and Emswiller was also taking a break alone on the deck. That’s when other crew members heard what sounded like someone falling from the balcony.
A nurse who travels with the movie crew ran to assist Emswiller, as did members of the crew, and began life saving measures. Medics arrived shortly after and continued those life saving measures, but the man was in full cardiac arrest when they arrived and was then quickly transported to UPMC Mercy Hospital.
Down the street, a local dining spot called Hitchhikers Brewery is where a bunch of people were eating and they saw and heard the commotion.
“All of a sudden all of these lights were just everywhere, and they started inching closer toward us shining into the bar, and I was like what is happening out there, and there was just people everywhere, people on the curb sitting,” said Vince Passerini. “We asked, what’s happening inside and they said they’re making a Mr. Rogers movie or something.”
“There were a bunch of fire trucks like maybe two of three ambulances, it was a large commotion everyone was starring,” said Sarah Pfabe. “We saw one ambulance leave they had the lights on but not the siren.”
Actor Tom Hanks, who is playing Fred Rogers in the movie, was on set as well as during this accident on Thursday.
The crew was understandably and visibly somber and upset after the accident and filming was halted for the evening.
Police believe the victim likely had a heart attack before he fell, but until they know for certain they are treating it as they would any criminal investigation. Detectives came to take pictures and process the scene.
It is unclear if taping will resume on Friday.