Halyna Hutchins' Friends React to Her Death on Alec Baldwin's 'Rust' Set: 'She Had a Cowgirl Spirit'

Halyna Hutchins died after Alec Baldwin fired a gun on the set of Rust

Halyna Hutchins' friends and family are mourning her death after the cinematographer was killed on the set of Rust.

Hutchins, 42, died Thursday after she was struck with a bullet fired by Alec Baldwin, who was given a gun with a live round in it, according to an email sent out by prop masters union IATSE Local 44, per IndieWire.

The IATSE Local 44 email contradicts an earlier report that the gun Baldwin was using on set contained blanks. On Thursday, a spokesperson for Baldwin told PEOPLE "there was an accident today on the New Mexico set of Rust involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks."

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In a statement shared with PEOPLE, Hutchins' team remembered her as "a ray of light" who was "always smiling" and "always hopeful."

"She decided early on she would take the craft of cinematography by storm and the last couple of years proved she was well on her way. Her talent was immense, only surpassed by the love she had for her family," they added. "All those in her orbit knew what was coming; a star director of photography, who would be a force to be reckoned with."

Halyna Hutchins
Halyna Hutchins. Mat Hayward/Getty

Screenwriter and director Lauren Ciaravalli paid tribute to her colleague on Instagram, calling Hutchins "a visionary artist, incredible mother and wife, brilliant collaborator, generous friend and one of the most spirited, committed and talented creatives I've been blessed enough to work with."

Ciaravalli, who worked with Hutchins on multiple projects, said the cinematographer was a natural fit for Rust, her latest film.

"Of course she booked a Western like Rust because she had a cowgirl spirit, embracing and relishing challenges with a love for her craft and community," Ciaravalli wrote, remembering her colleague for her kind words and gentle nature.

"She was often alone in close quarters with talent, both camera operating and DPing, and would gently sweep a leading lady's hair to the side, before making HMU struggle to get in there for a last look. She would add a sweet comment like, 'Your neckline looks so gorgeous,' as she did it, giving talent both comfort and a confidence boost right before the take," she wrote.

Ciaravalli closed out her message with a call for action: "Let us all do our jobs with the heart, care, attention, respect, smarts, and carefulness that Halyna brought to set. We should never lose a life on a film set, especially not like this."

Hutchins was also remembered by director Adam Egypt Mortimer, who also posted an Instagram tribute to the late creator. While Mortimer did not include a lengthy message, he simply shared a heart emoji and several pictures of Hutchins working behind the scenes of films.

Frances Fisher, an actress working on Rust with Hutchins, said she loved watching the cinematographer at work, writing on Instagram that she admired Hutchins' "intense focus" and "vibrant command of the room."

Mazena Puksto, a makeup artist who had worked with Hutcins, shared photos of herself and the cinematographer on Instagram, writing, "Last nights horrifying news shook everyone to the bones. I can't believe it. Halyna, You were an inspiration for so many women and men.This freak accident on set is infuriating. My heart goes out to your family, especially the little one ❤️"

Filmmaker Elle Schneider shared her own tribute on Twitter, writing, "Sick and devastated to hear that my friend and rockstar cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on set today in New Mexico. I don't have words to describe this tragedy. I want answers. I want her family to somehow find peace among this horrific, horrific loss."

Yana Nestoliy, Hutchins' friend from college, told the New York Times the young filmmaker was destined for a memorable career.

"She could have been among the top Hollywood stars on camera, not behind it," she said.

Hutchins was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital after she was struck on the set of Rust. She later died of her injuries there, according to a Santa Fe Sheriff's Department press release obtained by PEOPLE.

Director Joel Souza, 48, was also shot and sent to the hospital for his injuries. He was released Friday morning.

"The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today's tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna's family and loved ones," Rust production company Rust Movie Productions LLC, said in a statement following the incident. "We have halted production on the film for an undetermined period of time and are fully cooperating with the Santa Fe Police Department's investigation. We will be providing counseling services to everyone connected to the film as we work to process this awful event."

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