A man was taken to University Hospital McDuffie Friday, Jan. 7 after suffering a leg wound when another individual on set accidentally discharged an unauthorized, loaded firearm.
The accident occurred at the Old Warrenton Studios on Ranger Road in Warren County.
The victim has been treated for his injuries and released.
The victim’s life was saved by a quick thinking former Army paratrooper Brandon Palladino, a prop master on set who served in Afghanistan. He heard the shot and went running towards the sound.
“He was on the ground, and it was clear that his femoral artery had been severed, and my training just kinda kicked in. I knew I had to stop the bleeding,” Palladino said.
According to Palladino, he used gauze to cover the wound and wrapped a tourniquet around Eckhardt’s thigh and worked to stabilize him before helping load him into a truck to meet EMT’s who were speeding towards the location. The group with Palladino was able to cut down on time by communicating with the ambulance on route to meet them rather than wait for the ambulance to arrive on scene.
“There is no question that Brandon Palladino is a hero. He acted quickly with a cool head and saved that man’s life,” said Brad Owens, owner of Old Warrenton Studios.
Old Warrenton Studios is a new film set that opened recently to cater to western style films; however, according to Owens, the set was converted to house a science fiction battle scene, and the weapon brought on set was unauthorized and had no connection to the scene that was to be shot.
“While I am not a part of the production company, I just rented them the set, the producers have assured me that this was not a prop being used for their project and the incident occurred before the armorer even arrived on set to conduct a safety review of the weapons that were supposed to be used,” Owens said.
According to Owens, who did not witness the shooting but was given information on the scene by the GBI, the unidentified owner of the gun had discharged the cartridge of the firearm and cleared the chamber pointing at what he thought was the ground when the weapon fired and struck Eckhardt.
A longtime proponent of bringing films to Augusta and an armorer himself, Owens says the incident should not have happened, but the good news is that an unauthorized weapon on the set did not lead to a tragedy.
Veteran Augusta film production director Mark Crump says when he heard news of the shooting that his phone lit up with people worried that a situation had occurred similar to that of producer Alec Baldwin’s film “Rust” where a cinematographer was killed with a weapon purported to be a prop.
“I am so glad the young man survived, and I am also glad that there was a safety protocol on the set that obviously saved his life. Everyone here takes those protocols to heart,” Crump said.
The GBI cleared the scene without releasing a statement or announcing any possible charges.