Yesterday, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, hosts of Discovery’s Emmy-winning MythBusters, surveyed the damage a 30-pound cannonball did to a Dublin, Calif. family’s home while their three on-air cohorts, Tory Belleci, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara, were calibrating a homemade cannon so it would match the power of a historical cannon. Hyneman, who along with Savage wasn’t present when the cannon was fired nearly 1,000 yards west of the home, told the San Francisco Chronicle the crew experienced “muzzle lift,” which sent the steel or cast iron ball sailing, bouncing on a driveway, through a home, across a multi-lane road, against the roof of a second home, and into a minivan. The power got away from them, Hyneman said. Added Savage, “It’s a wake-up call. 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…. 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.”
Discovery was quick to release a statement that Sgt. JD Nelson, public information officer and bomb technician for the Alameda County Sheriff’s office — who is a regular safety explosives expert for MythBusters — had been on site and all proper safety protocol was observed. Miraculously, no injuries were reported, and meetings are taking place to make sure the affected are taken care of and the show never experiences another accident as potentially grave as this one. But understandably, the residents are nervous about it happening again and not being as lucky. There’s been a “hint” of a lawsuit, the Chronicle reports.
Now, my home has never been hit by a cannonball as family napped. I can’t imagine how scary it was, and obviously, the safety protocol needs to be updated to add an extra cushion for unknowns like cannon power. But if, as Discovery insists, current safety protocol was followed, I hope these people are able to settle without taking producers to court. The folks on MythBusters aren’t doing these explosions for an adrenaline rush. Don’t get me wrong, they enjoy blowing s— up. They’ve used over 12 tons of explosives in more than 700 explosions during more than 6,000 hours of filming of the series, which premiered in 2003. But there is a genuine love of science and curiosity behind it. President Obama has appeared on the show because he’s a fan and values what they do to popularize science. Once this cannon was calibrated, it was going to be used to test the myth that a stone cannonball can breach a castle’s walls. I would still like to know whether that’s possible.