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.