‘9-1-1’ Crew Member Killed in Car Accident Following 14-hour Overnight Shift, Union Says

‘9-1-1’ Crew Member Killed in Car Accident Following 14-hour Overnight Shift, Union Says

A California Highway Patrol vehicle in Orange, Calif., on May 22, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Audrey Enjoli

Audrey Enjoli

5/15/2024

Updated: 5/15/2024

Richard “Rico” Priem, a crew member on the ABC procedural drama “9-1-1,” was killed in a single-vehicle accident in the early hours of May 11 after working a 14-hour overnight shift for the television series.
A spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol’s Baldwin Park station told The Epoch Times that Mr. Priem was traveling northbound on State Route 57 Freeway in the city of San Dimas—located about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles—when his Toyota Highlander SUV “left the roadway,” went up an embankment, and rolled over onto its roof.
Mr. Priem was pronounced dead at the scene, the CHP officer confirmed. The cause of the crash, which occurred at approximately 4:27 a.m., is still under investigation.
Timothy Moriarty, Mr. Priem’s purported nephew, indicated in a GoFundMe account created to help cover funeral services that the 66-year-old’s recent shift marked his second consecutive 14-hour day working for the production company charged with filming the ABC drama—20th Television, a division of Disney Television Studios.
“After working from Friday at 2pm until 4:10am Saturday morning, less than 20 minutes from his departure from crew parking, his car was found rolled over,” Mr. Moriarty wrote.
The Epoch Times contacted ABC and The Walt Disney Company for comment but did not receive a response by press time.
Mr. Moriarty, who called Mr. Priem a “legend in the film & motion picture industry,” noted that his uncle was on the cusp of retiring.
“A heart of gold and a work ethic as strong as a rock, Rico served 30 years in the business with over 75,000 hours under his belt. Filing his paperwork only a few weeks prior, Rico was ready to enjoy his retirement, and planning to still work in the business to keep in contact with all of his friends and loved ones in the industry,” he shared.
“Life is precious, so hold your loved ones near,” Mr. Moriarty continued. “May Rico rest in peace.”

Tragic Loss

In a press release issued two days after the car accident, labor union IATSE Local 80—a division of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents motion picture grips, crafts service, marine, first aid employees, and warehouse workers—confirmed one of its members had died. However, it did not address Mr. Priem by name.
“Early on Saturday morning after working 14 hours of an overnight shift for an episodic television production, a member of IATSE Local 80 died in a tragic freeway accident in Los Angeles. 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 wrote.
“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,” the labor union concluded.
“Everyone in the IA family is shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic loss,” the union’s president, Matthew D. Loeb, said in a statement. “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.”
The IATSE, an affiliate of the UNI Global Union, a global union federation, has advocated for reduced working hours for film and television production workers for years. In October 2021, the labor union reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the entertainment sector’s official collective bargaining representative, which included time off requirements for crew working five or six consecutive days, per UNI Global Union.
In November of that year, the UNI Global Union released a report, “Demanding Dignity Behind the Scenes,” outlining a series of recommendations for film and television production companies globally, including working-hour standards.
“Working hours must comply with collective agreements and national laws. Production companies must respect rest periods and breaks in collective agreements and national laws,” the federation asserted. “Overtime must be voluntary, not required on a regular basis, and must always be compensated at a premium rate.”

Tributes Pour In

As the news of Mr. Priem’s untimely passing circulated on the internet, an outpouring of messages from members of the entertainment industry ensued.
“Folks below the line die to keep budgets in control. Every 12 [hours] an actor does, a grip, a PA, an AD does 14 or more. But they’re also the ones suffering the most now. Desperate for all the work they can get in the uncertainty,” Alec Engerson, a former production staff member for the CBS series “True Lies,” wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
“Rico Priem, an Extraordinary Best Boy Grip, and colleague to many of us, was killed on his way home from working on ‘911’ in Pomona early this morning,” Mr. Priem’s colleague, Nina Moskol, shared in a social media post, reshared to the Crew Stories Instagram account.
“The two most dangerous parts of our days are getting to work, and getting home,” she continued. “Please stay safe out there.”
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Audrey Enjoli

Audrey Enjoli

Author

Audrey is a freelance entertainment reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California. She is a seasoned writer and editor whose work has appeared in Deseret News, Evie Magazine, and Yahoo Entertainment, among others. She holds a B.A. from the University of Central Florida where she double majored in broadcast journalism and political science.

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