'Leading the pack': Stuntwoman SJ Harris mourned after fatal Deadpool 2 crash
'I am everything people never saw in this sport,' said Harris, a black woman who raced as a professional
The American stunt rider who died in Vancouver on Monday while shooting an action sequence for the film Deadpool 2 has been identified as SJ Harris, a 40-year-old from New York City.
Harris died in a motorcycle accident after she crashed through a window in Shaw Tower near Jack Poole Plaza.
According to the BC Coroners Service, Harris's family will issue a statement later today.
Deadpool 2 was Harris's first gig as a stuntwoman. Her manager, Porsche Taylor, described her as a "trailblazer" in motorcycle road racing.
"Once she got on the track, she fell in love with it. And she was surprised that there weren't very many women who were racing and no women of colour, or no African-American women, in particular," Taylor said in an interview Tuesday with As It Happens.
"She was excited to be able to break some new ground."
Harris began riding in 2009 and received her race licence in May 2013. She started competing in 2014, racing in the American Sportbike Racing Association Championship Cup Series.
"SJ was super competitive on the track," Taylor recalled. "She would race with men as well as women — and often give as good as she got."
In a 2015 profile published in Black Girls Ride Magazine, Harris was described as the first African-American woman to become a professional road racer.
"I am everything people never saw in this sport," Harris told the magazine in an interview.
"Sisters on the track are few and far in between. I want to show them that there's more for them to be exposed to. I want to get kids interested through experience," she said, noting that most of her competitors are white, affluent men who have been riding from a young age.
On her personal blog, Harris wrote about the difficulties of financing such an expensive sport, finding equipment designed for women's bodies, and being underestimated. She also stressed the importance of safety and wrote candidly about her fear of accidents and injuries.
"It crosses my mind at times, but a racer can't let it stop us. Weren't we all scared of crossing the street before we understood what made us scared?"
"I've learned to accept that I am not the greatest rider that exists and that there is always something to learn when on track and pushing limits. Sometimes I'm going to eat it if I'm impatient. Everything takes time. Face your fears you never know what [you're] missing out on."
In a statement posted to Twitter, Deadpool 2 star Ryan Reynolds said he was "heartbroken, shocked and devastated" by her death.
Harris's death is the first fatality of a stunt person in B.C. since 1996.
The BC Coroners Service and WorkSafeBC are investigating her death.
With files from Farrah Merali