Grief, anger after '9-1-1' grip dies in car crash following 14-hour overnight shift

A longtime and beloved studio grip died early Saturday in a car accident after pulling a 14-hour overnight shift on the TV series “9-1-1.”

Rico Priem, 66, who worked on productions including “Six Feet Under,” “Deadwood” and “American History X,” was driving home from the Pomona set of “9-1-1” when he was involved in a single-vehicle crash at about 4:30 a.m. California Highway Patrol officials said his car left the highway, traveled up an embankment, then flipped upside down on the road. Officials said the investigation was ongoing, but police on the scene said alcohol was a “suspected factor.”

The death prompted many of Priem’s colleagues, along with his union, IATSE Local 80, to call for safer working conditions for movie and television crews, noting that driving home after all-night shifts is both dangerous and a routine part of the job.

“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,” IATSE said in a statement.

Priem’s colleagues, meanwhile, took to social media to remember Priem as a warm, fun-loving and skilled crew member, and to express their grief and their anger.

“We have to make our industry better and safer,” one man wrote on Facebook.

Nina Moskol, also a grip on “9-1-1,” which airs on ABC, wrote on Facebook that she had worked with Priem in the days before his death, and that he had told her he was getting ready to retire and looking forward to spending more time with his wife and his grandnephew.

She called Priem’s death a “traumatic loss” and cited grueling work schedules while urging her fellow crew members to drive safely, and to accept hotel rooms if they felt tired rather than rushing home.

IATSE is currently in contract negotiations with studios, and working conditions and long shifts are among the issues being discussed.

In a statement, 20th Century Television said: ”On behalf of the studio and everyone at 9-1-1, we send our sincere and deepest condolences to Rico Priem’s family and friends.”

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