Res­i­dent Evil’s real life hor­ror sto­ries

CityPress - - News - BIÉNNE HUIS­MAN bi­enne.huis­man@city­press.co.za

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.”

PHOTO: JACO MARAIS

GRATE­FUL TO BE ALIVE Olivia Jack­son was in­jured on the set of Res­i­dent Evil: The Fi­nal Chap­ter dur­ing film­ing in Joburg

PHOTO: IN­STA­GRAM

SHAT­TERED LIFE Ri­cardo and Shafiefa Cor­nelius. Ri­cardo was crushed to death on the set of Res­i­dent Evil: The Fi­nal Chap­ter

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