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Jurors Hear Grisly Details of ‘Twilight Zone’ Crash

October 27, 1986 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A county firefighter gave jurors at the ″Twilight Zone″ manslaughter trial a graphic description Monday of how a helicopter crashed in a firestorm, strewing pieces of bodies in its wake.

Jack Rimmer, who said he was standing perhaps 100 feet from where actor Vic Morrow and two children were killed, said he was surprised at the force of special-effects bombs that rocked the set during filming of a Vietnam War scene.

″It surprised me that the helicopter would be flying through a firestorm,″ he said.

Rimmer said he heard a voice commanding the helicopter to fly lower, a voice previously identified as that of director John Landis, who used a bullhorn to shout directions on the set of ″Twilight Zone: The Movie.″

Landis, associate producer George Folsey, production manager Dan Allingham, special effects supervisor Paul Stewart and helicopter pilot Dorcey Wingo are charged with involuntary manslaughter in the July 23, 1982, accident.

″The helicopter came toward me. It was awfully low by then and I backed up. The fire was pretty intense by that time,″ Rimmer said.

Asked what he saw, Rimmer said, ″There was too much of a firestorm. The helicopter blades were picking up dust and debris. You couldn’t see anything.″

When the smoke cleared, Rimmer said he rushed to the downed helicopter and began pulling out passengers. Then, he said, he saw bodies.

Under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Lea Purwin D’Agostino, Rimmer went on to describe how the body parts were removed from the scene. The defense had been unsuccessful in asking Superior Court Judge Roger Boren to bar such testimony, although Boren forbid detailed descriptions of the remains.

Morrow, 53, was killed along with Myca Le, 7, and Renee Chen, 6, during the scene in which the low-flying helicopter crashed on top of them.

The prosecution contends the defendants caused the fatal accident through recklessness and negligence.

During cross-examination, defense attorney James Sanders tried to show that firefighters on the set shared the defendants’ opinion that the scene was safe.

Rimmer acknowledged he saw no reason during two earlier rehearsal scenes to stop the scene from being filmed. But he insisted he did not know there were children on the set, had not been told how low the helicopter would fly and was not informed that a bomb would go off under one of the huts in a mock Vietnamese village.