Light & Verity

Drama student dies in theater accident

Jessica Marsden '08
School of Drama

School of Drama

Pierre-André Salim was a second-year student in technical design and production. View full image

A drama student was killed on November 18 while preparing for a Yale Repertory Theatre production of Tartuffe. Pierre-Andre Salim, 26, was helping to unload sets from the back of a truck when a stack of particle board fell and pinned him against the truck's wall. Although Salim was wearing a hard hat, the weight was so great that he suffered massive head injuries.

Investigators from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration said that the way the particle board was stacked inside the truck contributed to the accident. In December, OSHA recommended that Yale give drama students specific training and supervision in unloading heavy props.

Salim, a student in the School of Drama's technical design and production program, was participating in a required production assignment when the accident occurred. OSHA officials say that because Salim was working in his capacity as a student, not as an employee, OSHA does not have the authority to assess penalties in the case.

After Salim's death, drama school dean James Bundy ’95MFA apologized "for any factors that could have contributed to this tragedy." In response to the accident, the provost's and general counsel's offices have launched an inquiry into safety practices across campus.

Salim, who was born in France and grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia, graduated in 2002 from the National University of Singapore. After college, he worked as a production and stage manager for several theater companies in Singapore before enrolling at Yale in 2006.

As one of only 202 drama students, Salim had been well known in the drama school, and the school postponed the opening of Tartuffe for a week and held a memorial service, vigil, and other gatherings for faculty, students, and Salim's family.

"He was—is—the kind of person everybody seems to know. So it cut very deeply," said Bill Reynolds, the drama school's operations manager. The school has established a full scholarship in Salim's honor.

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