Irresponsible Cannon Owners of the Day: The Mythbusters Crew

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Mythbusters, you know that no matter what theory they put to the test, safety’s taken pretty seriously. They go to great lengths to make sure that, whether they’re swimming with sharks, depressurizing a plane with a gunshot or trying to see if an explosion really can knock someone’s socks off, the safety of cast and crew is a prime consideration. But as any gun owner can tell you, if you get careless and let your guard down – even for a minute – bad shit can happen…

The Mythbusters B Team, Grant Imahara, Kari Byron and Tory Belleci, were in the early stages of testing whether a stone cannon ball can actually breach a castle wall. They were operating at the Alameda County bomb disposal range, calibrating a homemade cannon and firing some fearsome iron spheres into water-filled barrels and a masonry wall when, as sfgate.com describes it, they experienced some unexpected, um, “muzzle lift.”

The cantaloupe-sized cannonball missed the water, tore through a cinder-block wall, skipped off a hillside and flew some 700 yards east, right into the Tassajara Creek neighborhood, where children were returning home from school at 4:15 p.m., authorities said.

There, the 6-inch projectile bounced in front of a home on quiet Cassata Place, ripped through the front door, raced up the stairs and blasted through a bedroom, where a man, woman and child slept through it all – only awakening because of plaster dust.

The ball wasn’t done bouncing.

It exited the house, leaving a perfectly round hole in the stucco, crossed six-lane Tassajara Road, took out several tiles from the roof of a home on Bellevue Circle and finally slammed into the Gill family’s beige Toyota Sienna minivan in a driveway on Springvale Drive.

That’s where Jasbir Gill, 42, who had pulled up 10 minutes earlier with his 13-year-old son, Manvir, found the ball on the floorboards, with glass everywhere and an obliterated dashboard.

Oops. For all you fans of Newton’s first law, it’s hard to think of a better demonstration. Incredibly, no one was injured by the wayward projectile as it careened through East Bay suburbia.

The show’s more famous stars, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage – guys who usually light their cigars with Tannerite – dutifully toured the neighborhood in the aftermath to survey the damage and make their apologies.

“It’s a wake-up call,” said Savage, 44, who like his 56-year-old partner lives in San Francisco. “Honestly, the feeling of embarrassment is not something we’re indulging in right now. We feel for the families and the people affected by this.”

He added, “Some people watch our show and think that we’re reckless. Others watch our show and they see we take safety seriously. The fact is, the latter is the case.”

Sadly, they’ve pledged not to air the footage of the errant artillery shot. But don’t worry. If you’re interested, the clip will probably be part of the public record if any of the lawsuits make it to trial. Which we’re confident won’t happen.

All of which reinforces the point that the four rules apply no matter how big your gun is. And that’s not a double entendre. Honest. In the mean time, we’re proud to honor the Mythbusters team with perhaps our highest profile IGOTD (ICOTD?) award to date. They definitely deserve it and that ain’t no myth.

comments

  1. avatar Johhny says:

    Won’t air the show? C’mon, it’d be the most interesting Mythbusters episode in a long time.

    How many houses does it take for a cannonball to come to a stop?

    1. avatar Anonymouse says:

      They said they won’t air the FOOTAGE. They probably will still do stone-cannonball, but I have a feeling its going to be out in the desert or a rock quarry.

  2. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    some idiot will try to replicate the data and then they will be blamed for it with another lawsuit. I can see why the lawyers say no to showing the clip.

  3. avatar GS650G says:

    Serious physics lesson here. A 30 lb rock takes a while to come to a stop.

  4. avatar Kirk says:

    The most interesting thing, thankfully not lethally so, is how the projectile ricocheted around inside one of the hapless condos before solidly exiting stage left to jaywalk a busy road before putting a minivan out of our misery. I’m thankful (hopeful?) the crew won’t be perse- prose-cuted for their ND.

    All’s well that ends well. Ish.

  5. avatar Robert says:

    And now California is going to ban assault cannons.

    1. avatar Totenglocke says:

      They’ll also ban mechanical engineers and curiosity.

    2. avatar huck says:

      …and 15 round assault cannon “clips”.

  6. avatar matt says:

    Who the hell builds a bomb disposal range in a suburban residential area? Heres a google map:
    http://wikimapia.org/8706724/Alameda-County-Bomb-Disposal-Range
    They couldnt buy any land a couple miles north east of there?

    1. avatar Andrew says:

      Heavy sleepers I hope!
      A cannonball smashes through your house and you only wake up because of plaster dust. First off what family is asleep @ 4:15P and how do you not hear that?
      It is awesome how much damage that cannonball did. Glad no one got hurt

    2. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      HEre is the range; zoom in to the right:

      http://wikimapia.org/8706724/Alameda-County-Bomb-Disposal-Range

      1. avatar matt says:

        I edited my post without noticing your reply. Heres a google map that isnt constrained to 300px tall
        http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=37.720139,-121.881731&spn=0.002291,0.01281&t=u&z=17&key=ABQIAAAAQqSIovB9EfXh72TB8kDpjxR_wena9kPy_A6wCQ67N-sVGkOLHRRWEgZunwUbUj2wOG1kBKufYRE55Q&mapclient=jsapi&oi=map_misc&ct=api_logo
        Unsurprisingly the closest building is a large prison covered in solar panels to the south west. Who the hell chooses to buy a house in that neighborhood? Prisoner safety or duty of care, whats that?

      2. avatar MrJames says:

        So why point it toward housing when there is a massive expanse of nothing to the NW. Cool map.

    3. avatar Tim says:

      I would think the disposal area was there before the homes. So the question should be: “Who the hell builds homes near a bomb disposal range”?

    4. avatar Sid says:

      Matt,

      The bomb range was well outside of the city and far away from residential areas when it was built (actually dug). Developers slowly encroached on the bomb range.

      If you buy a home near an airport, there is a very remote chance that you will end up with an airplane in your living room. If you buy a home near a bomb range….

      1. avatar matt says:

        I suppose my question should be, why the hell did the county (or whoever) give them building permits, and why is it zoned residential? I wonder how much a house goes for in that area?

        1. avatar Tim says:

          Probably not as much as they did in 2006.

        2. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

          Look – the land of milk and honey is damn expensive. Land is usually largest cost on the coasts. If you can get land with some “challenges” (how many bombs are reallly blown up on the range on a daily basis??), then you can get the price down and perhaps afford to live within driving distance. The prison is a non-issue. I used to live in a really nice neighborhood near a prison (about 2 miles away). They had one break-out in 30 yrs and the idiot was caught within the hour.

        3. avatar matt says:

          lol, wikipedia says “…plans were established for the construction of the current $172 million facility, which opened in 1989…Santa Rita is the third largest jail in California and the fifth largest in the United States” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Rita_Jail
          I wonder when those homes were built?

    5. avatar scott says:

      Pretty sure Matt is right. Who builds a house next to a bomb range?

    6. avatar pastubbs says:

      the range was actually there first

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    Did the Mythbusters crew actually call a fifteen cushion shot? ‘Cause that would be totally amazing.

  8. avatar Lemming says:

    Off the berm, thought the front door, up the stairs, out the wall, off another roof and into a mini-van.Nothing but net.

    http://www.perceptionbuilder.com/mythbusters-cannonball-map

  9. avatar scott says:

    Impressive, I don’t think I give 15th century cannonballs their due.

  10. avatar ready,fire,aim says:

    lucky, lucky, lucky

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