‘MythBusters’ Stunt Sends Cannonball Through House

Dec 7, 2011 4:21pm

The popular “MythBusters” show on the Discovery Channel is facing scrutiny after an incident Tuesday in which a cannonball was sent whizzing through a San Francisco-area neighborhood.

Producers for the show, in which hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman test common myths, were reportedly testing a cannon at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department bomb range in Dublin, Calif., around 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The cannon was supposed to travel through several barrels of water and a cinder block wall within the bomb range but, instead, hit something that caused it to shoot over the hillside and into the residential neighborhood below.

Traveling at a speed of 1,000 feet per second, the cannonball flew 700 yards into a home where a couple was sleeping, bounced across a road, onto a roof and, finally, crashed into the window of a minivan.

While no one was injured in the accident, it startled local residents.

Jasbir Gill, the owner of the minivan, told local ABC affiliate KGO-TV he had exited his van just minutes before the impact.

“I looked inside and there was a big cannonball,” said Gill. “It was a good five to 10 inches. I was scared. I was lucky my kids weren’t in the van.”

The cannon also left a 10-inch hole in the bedroom wall of the home whose residents were sleeping.

“They didn’t actually hear the cannonball come through the house. What woke them up was the settling of the sheet rock,” Sgt. J.D. Nelson from the Alameda Co. Sheriff’s Dept., who was on site as a safety expert when the incident occurred, told KGO-TV.

Nelson told the station the “MythBusters” experiment was intended to “see if other materials could be fired out of a cannon and be as effective as a cannonball.”

Instead, the network and the production team behind the San Francisco-based show were left to explain how the experiment went so wrong.

“During the testing, a cannonball took an unforeseen bounce from a safety berm,” read a statement issued by Discovery and Beyond Productions after the incident.  “Sgt. JD Nelson, public information officer and bomb technician for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, who is a regular safety explosives expert for ‘MythBusters,’ was on site and all proper safety protocol was observed. Beyond Productions is currently assessing the situation and working with those whose property was affected.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the stars of “MythBusters” toured the scene of the damage, apologized, said the episode would not air and the show would not be shooting cannons at the range in the future, according to KGO.

“This is the worst we can imagine happening,” KGO quoted host Adam Savage saying. “I have kids of my own, I have a house of my own; I can’t imagine how angry I would be to find this happening to it.”

According to Nelson, Discovery has used the sheriff department’s bomb range for more than 50 “MythBusters” episodes since the show first debuted on Discovery in 2003.

“They’re very sorry that this happened. And they have safety measures that are in place,” said Nelson.  “They did have a misfire. And they have insurance for these kinds of things.”

The Emmy-nominated show, which has aired 189 episodes, returned for its ninth season this September.

A list of the stunts planned for this season, released earlier this year by the network, included testing whether a methane blast inside a sewer could blow manhole covers tens of feet into the air, whether one could supersize a Newton’s cradle to epic proportions, and if duct tape could be used to fix a plane that has been mauled by a bear.

The Discovery Channel did not respond to requests for additional comment placed today by ABCNews.com.

SHOWS:
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus