Resident Evil’s real life horror stories
Three weeks after Ricardo Cornelius was killed on a Hollywood film set in Cape Town, his David Beckham cologne still lingers in the house he shared with his wife, Shafiefa.
The couple got married 10 months ago and lived in a three-bedroom home in Mitchells Plain.
But this week his seat was empty at the family’s Christmas table, and yesterday Shafiefa spent her 26th birthday at his grave in Maitland.
An ardent soccer fan, Cornelius was buried on December 12 in his Manchester United T-shirt.
Shafiefa is devastated and says film bosses are ignoring her questions related to how the tragedy happened.
On December 3, at around 1pm, Cornelius was crushed between a wall and a Hummer 4x4 on the set of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, which features megastars Milla Jovovich and Ruby Rose.
He was rushed to the Netcare hospital in Kuils River, but emergency surgery could not save him.
The Resident Evil franchise is the highest-grossing series based on a video game ever, having earned $915 million (R14 billion) at box offices around the world.
The sixth instalment of the franchise, directed by Jovovich’s husband, Paul WS Anderson, was shot in Johannesburg and Cape Town over five months. A few final scenes were being filmed in Belhar on the day of the accident.
Cornelius was an employee of All Access Crew, which was tasked with building a set for Moonlighting Films, South Africa’s premiere local filming facilitator. Moonlighting’s recent productions include the series Homeland and Mad Max: Fury Road.
Shafiefa says All Access Crew informed her at 1pm on 3 December that her husband had been injured.
The widow says they never disclosed the severity of his injuries, not even when a company representative stopped by at her house to pick up identity documents just after 1pm.
Before leaving to go to the hospital at 6pm, she still packed his toiletries, pyjamas and made his favourite food – steak and sausage, with rice and mashed potatoes – to give to him. But he died within an hour of her arrival. “The doctor called me into a room. He said Ricardo was bleeding too much. That they had to clean him up first before I could see him,” she said.
Shafiefa was clutching her 34-year-old husband’s hand when he died of internal bleeding and a destroyed liver.
“When I went into his room he was on life support. I was sitting next to him, talking to him and holding his hand, but he couldn’t hear me. He was too hurt.
“I begged him not to give up, because he is strong and I need him very, very much. When he died, I was holding his hand so tightly.”
Also in the hospital room when Cornelius passed away were his parents, Valencia and James.
This week Genevieve Hofmeyr, managing director at Moonlighting Films, told City Press: “As far as we are aware, the family was notified as soon as possible, given all the circumstances.”
When asked why Shafiefa was informed of her husband’s critical condition only five hours after the accident, All Access Crew’s general manager Cassandre Wilson also said they acted as fast as they could.
“We are in touch with Shafiefa. She’s not doing well. She’s not coping. It’s very sad,” said Wilson.
She added that a safety inspector was on the set on the day of the accident, but would not divulge details, saying the department of labour had launched an investigation into the accident.
SA Police Service spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut confirmed that a police inquest had been opened into the death. All Access Crew paid R15 000 toward the funeral. Meanwhile, 34-year-old Olivia Jackson from Cape Town – who now lives in London with her husband, fellow stunt performer David Grant – is still recovering after an accident, also on the set of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, during filming in Joburg in September.
Jackson was working as a stunt double for Jovovich and filming a high-speed motorbike chase when she crashed into a metal camera arm which – allegedly – did not lift in time.
Jackson was put in an induced coma for two weeks after suffering serious injuries to her head, face, arm and back, and puncturing a lung.
This week, Jackson told Britain’s The Sun newspaper: “My left arm is paralysed and is going to have to be amputated. My facial scarring is horrible. I wish I had my old face, but I’m truly grateful to be alive.”
GRATEFUL TO BE ALIVE Olivia Jackson was injured on the set of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter during filming in Joburg
SHATTERED LIFE Ricardo and Shafiefa Cornelius. Ricardo was crushed to death on the set of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter