‘9-1-1’ Crew Member Dies In Car Accident Following 14-Hour Overnight Shift

A crew member on 9-1-1 died early Saturday morning in a car accident on the highway following a 14-hour overnight shift.

Rico Priem, a grip for the Fox procedural and a member of the crew union IATSE Local 80, was involved in a car crash after working Friday night through Saturday morning on a location shoot in Pomona, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. IATSE and the show’s studio, 20th Television, confirmed the death in statements on Monday after crew members began posting about the tragedy on social media over the weekend.

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“We are fully committed to the safety and the well-being of all our members and express our heartfelt condolences to the member’s family,” IATSE said in its statement. “Workers have a reasonable expectation that they can get to work and come home safely. No one should be put in unsafe circumstances while trying to earn a living.”

Priem was a day player on 9-1-1 and his shift on Friday was his second 14-hour production day in a row, a union leader confirmed with THR. Priem left work a little after 4 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Added 20th Television in a statement, “On behalf of the studio and everyone at 9-1-1, we send our sincere and deepest condolences to Rico Priem’s family and friends.”

According to the California Highway Patrol, Priem’s Toyota Highlander was found overturned and obstructing the right lanes on the 57 freeway in San Dimas; the crash was reported around 4:27 a.m. on Saturday. According to CHP, Priem’s vehicle drove off the road and up an embankment before flipping onto its roof. Priem was found dead at the scene. The crash remains under investigation.

Fellow grip and IATSE Local 80 member Nina Moskol said in a social media post that she had worked with Priem on Thursday night before the accident and discussed his plans for the future at that time. Priem “was on the cusp of retirement, with his paperwork filed,” Moskol wrote. “He had his already rich life planned for retirement, including spending time with his wife, watching his grand-nephew grow, riding his beloved Harley, and even gripping still to stay connected to his friends. He was so jazzed about what he had learned about retiring, he wanted to teach the ins and outs of retirement at the local.”

Moskol called Priem “a wonderful man, charismatic, vibrant, connected to people on shows everywhere.” She called him a “writer’s dream of a working man.”

In a statement, IATSE international president Matthew Loeb said the union was “shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic loss.” Loeb added, “We are working to support our member’s family, their fellow members and colleagues. Safety in all aspects of the work our members do is our highest priority and we will assist in any investigation in any way that we can.”

Prior to his role on 9-1-1, Priem worked an array of major titles, including The Company You Keep, S.W.A.T., Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Star Trek, Christmas With the Kranks and Ghost World.

Priem’s death is the latest accident to rock the crew community in the last few months. In February, J.C. “Spike” Osorio died after falling from the rafters at Radford Studios while he was working as a rigger for Marvel’s Wonder Man. In April, multiple crew members were injured in an action sequence that did not go as planned on the set of Amazon-MGM Studios’ The Pickup. OSHA investigations for both incidents remain ongoing.

The sprawling length of production work days and how they affect commutes home has long been a safety concern for crew members and their advocates. IATSE union members were outspoken about the safety risks of over-12-hour production shifts during the union’s negotiations cycle in 2021, and their union is again prioritizing financial penalties for long work days and missed rest periods during its ongoing negotiations with studios and streamers.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers —  the group that negotiates with Hollywood labor unions —  said, “Our hearts go out to Rico Priem’s family, friends, and all of those who are impacted by this tragic loss of life.”

May 14, 12:25 p.m. Updated with California Highway Patrol report information, the AMPTP statement and information from a union official.

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