Student injured by backfiring prop

Cerina De Souza
Staff Writer

A University of La Verne student was rushed to the Pomona Valley Community Hospital emergency room after a backfire from a prop for the current student production, “The King Stag,” exploded in the Dailey Theatre workshop on Nov. 20.

Jesse Soto, a senior theater arts major, was working alone in the workshop building nine muskets that were supposed to shoot confetti into the air.

The barrel of one of the muskets backfired, shooting pieces of metal into the left side of his chest, stomach and cheek.

Soto received only superficial wounds. He spent a few hours in the emergency room and was released the same night.

Soto returned Nov. 24 to continue working on the smaller props and smoke machine that were needed for the set.

All firework effects were canceled for the production of “The King Stag” because the University does not have a licensed pyro-technician on staff to supervise the construction of such a potentially harmful stage prop.

“Although (the theater) is a place with many hazards, we are very concerned and aware of safety,” said David Flaten, chairman of the theater arts department.

Soto did most of the research himself and understood the basic principles about creating the muskets with the help from his friend’s father who is a gunsmith.

Although he is unsure what exactly happened to make the barrel explode, Soto said he thinks that there might have been too much powder, too much wattage or a combination of both.

Following the injury until now, many departments on and off campus have been contacted and are continuing to contact the theater arts department regarding the policies and procedures that their department followed.

With rumors spreading from department to department, a meeting was arranged late last week between the theater arts department, Provost Alden Reimonenq and Clark Hitt, director of risk management and support services.

Hitt will review the policies and procedures and will be updating the theater arts department’s policies to make sure that the theater arts department is following those policies correctly.

The departments will be coming together to make these changes and hopefully in about a month, all of the changes will be completed.

Following the policy changes at the University, the insurance company will come in and evaluate everything that happened.

“There was no negligence on the side of the staff. Accidents happen,” Flaten said.

Although he was shaken up by the incident, Soto continues to have a positive and upbeat attitude about the situation.

“I am a theater major for life and this is not going to slow me down. I may be more careful in the future, but I am not going to stop,” Soto said.

“The King Stag” is currently being performed in the Dailey Theatre and will continue through the weekend.

Cerina De Souza can be reached at

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