VIDEO: ‘Deadpool 2’ stuntwoman who died was pioneering motorcycle racer

Joi (SJ) Harris was known for her beautiful spirit and bubbly personality

A stuntwoman killed while filming a scene for the movie “Deadpool 2” in Vancouver on Monday is being remembered as a pioneering motorcycle road racer who lived her life to the fullest.

Joi (SJ) Harris was a true personification of her first name, friends say, as she exuded happiness and had an ever-present smile.

“She played by her own rules and lived her life to the fullest by following her motto: If it’s not a challenge, it’s boring,” said Kim Edwards, who said they were “besties” and she affectionately called Harris her “lil sis.”

“She will always have a place in my heart.”

The BC Coroners Service identified Harris, 40, as the stunt driver killed on the movie set in downtown Vancouver. Spokesman Andy Watson said Harris, a resident of New York City, died at the scene.

RELATED: Ryan Reynolds ‘heartbroken’ after death of stunt driver on Deadpool 2 set

Witnesses said she appeared to lose control of her motorcycle while filming outside the Vancouver Convention Centre and crashed through a ground floor window of an office building across the street.

A memorial of flowers and candles has been set up at the scene in front of the boarded-up window. A message written on one of the candles reads, “Brave, beautiful and free.”

Harris’s Facebook page was updated Tuesday with a statement that called her ”an extraordinary woman with a passion for riding and motorsports. She was known for her beautiful spirit and bubbly personality.”

“She was fearless and relentless in her pursuit of her dream, to ride as a motorsports professional,” the statement said. “She was living her dream, when her life was suddenly cut short while filming as a stunt rider. She will be dearly missed by her race fans all over the world.”

Harris described herself on her website as the “first licensed African-American woman in U.S. history to actively compete in (American Motorcyclist Association) sanctioned, motorcycle road racing events.”

James Holter, vice-president of the American Motorcyclist Association, said it was difficult to confirm her claim. The group has many African-American female members but does not collect ethnicity information when licences are issued, he said.

“I think her skill, both at the controls of a motorcycle and in representing herself, I think have gone a long way, not just to advance African-American female motorcyclists but all motorcyclists,” he said.

Kevin Elliott, president of the American Sportbike Racing Association, said Harris began racing with the association’s beginner-level Champion Cup Series in 2014 and this year moved up to a “feeder” series that is meant to prepare riders for racing at an expert level.

Harris loved the freedom, the excitement and the adrenaline rush that motorcycles brought her, said Elliott, adding he will always remember her smile.

“She would get off the track and even before she’d pull her helmet off, she’d have a grin from ear to ear. No matter what happened, whether it was good or bad during that race, she would always get off the bike just like she had won the race,” he remembered.

“It’s the pure joy of being able to get out and compete and do your best. She always showed that, every day.”

For the first two years she was racing on a bike that was too big, but when she switched to a bike that was more suited to her size, her talent showed itself to be “very promising,” he said.

Harris hadn’t won yet, but she came in third at a race involving amateurs and experts in West Virginia in May, a proud moment for her, Elliott said. A photo taken after the race shows her smiling next to her bike.

He said the association does not allow tricks on the racetrack and he didn’t know what experience she had doing stunt work.

A spokeswoman for 20th Century Fox said the movie’s production had been shut down on Monday and Tuesday and she couldn’t say when filming would begin again.

Watson said separate investigations of the crash are underway by the coroner’s service and WorkSafeBC, the province’s workplace safety agency. He said the coroner’s report will be released publicly when it is complete.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lord Tweedsmuir tops Tamanawis in all-cat fight for Surrey RCMP Classic title

Panthers’ Jaeden Reid was named MVP at all-Surrey boys tournament

Surrey students donate 2,000 pairs of socks

Initiative part of the Leo Club program

Surrey hosts grand-opening ceremony of North Surrey arena complex

‘Accessible’ facility features three sheets of ice

Trade to hometown team a ‘blessing in disguise’ for Surrey Eagles defenceman

Kieran O’Hearn gets to play in front of family, who live just minutes from South Surrey Arena

White Rock solid waste open house scheduled

Event to take place next month

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

VIDEO: SPCA and RCMP remove several animals, including pig, at private animal rescue in Langley

Home at 5500 block of 216th Street has undergone multiple seizures over the past five years

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Vancouver police probe second homicide in less than 24 hours

Woman was found dead in her Gastown home

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Most Read