David McNew/Getty Images
People march March 7, 2014 in Los Angeles along Sunset Boulevard from the Directors Guild of America to the International Cinematographers Guild national offices in a candlelight walk and memorial for Sarah Jones, an assistant camerawoman who was killed by a train while shooting the Gregg Allman biopic film, Midnight Rider. The remembrance of the 27-year-old camerawoman was organized by members of the International Cinematographers Guild and the production community who want to highlight the importance of safety over a production's schedule or budget.

Director Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter in Case Involving Death of a Camera Assistant

March 9, 2015
Prosecutors dropped charges against his wife in return for guilty plea in the case of a train crash at a film location that resulted in the death of Sarah Jones and injuries to eight other members of the film crew.

Randall Miller, director of a bio-pic about musician Gregg Allman, pleaded guilty to charges of criminal trespassing and involuntary manslaughter in Georgia’s Chatham County Superior Court on March 9. In return for the guilty plea – which results in two years’ jail time, eight years’ of probation and a $20,000 fine for Miller – prosecutors agreed to drop charges against his wife and business partner, Jody Savin. Executive producer Jay Sedrish, also pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing and was placed on 10 years’ probation.

A year earlier, on Feb. 20, camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed and eight other workers were injured while trying to escape an oncoming freight train during the filming of a scene for “Midnight Rider,” a biopic based on Allman’s life.

The incident occurred during the filming of a scene on the tracks of the Doctortown train trestle in rural Georgia that spans the Altamaha River.

During filming, crew members saw a CSX train heading toward them. They immediately started exiting the tracks, trying to remove set pieces and get off the trestle before the train reached them. However, they were unable to outrun the oncoming train.

Jones was killed and eight other crew members were injured by debris when the train hit a hospital bed being used as a set piece, according to OSHA. Witnesses said that the bed hit Jones and caused her to be pushed into the path of the oncoming train, which was traveling at 55 mph.

“Their failure to develop a safety plan to prevent such hazards, including obtaining permission from the rail owner to use the tracks for filming, led to the death of one crew member and injuries to eight other employees,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator for the Southeast.

OSHA cited the production company, Allmann LLC, for one willful violation and one serious safety violation, alleging that the company exposed crew members to struck-by and fall hazards.

Sarah Jones’ death spawned a campaign to bring awareness to the dangers found on film sets.

“Employers are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect workers’ health and safety, and the entertainment industry is no exception,” OSHA Administrator David Michaels said when OSHA issued the violations in August 2014. “It is unacceptable that Film Allman LLC knowingly exposed their crew to moving trains while filming on a live track and railroad trestle.”

CSX Transportation, which owns the bridge, reportedly denied filmmakers access to the bridge, which is what allowed the criminal charges to move forward. Under Georgia law, people can be charged with involuntary manslaughter if someone is killed during the commission of a misdemeanor like trespassing.

Sponsored Recommendations

ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS)

March 28, 2024
ISO 45001 certification – reduce your organizational risk and promote occupational health and safety (OHS) by working with SGS to achieve certification or migrate to the new standard...

Want to Verify your GHG Emissions Inventory?

March 28, 2024
With the increased focus on climate change, measuring your organization’s carbon footprint is an important first action step. Our Green House Gas (GHG) verification services provide...

Download Free ESG White Paper

March 28, 2024
The Rise and Challenges of ESG – Your Journey to Enhanced Sustainability, Brand and Investor Potential

Free Webinar: Mining & ESG: The Sustainability Mandate

March 28, 2024
Participants in this webinar will understand the business drivers and challenges of ESG and sustainability performance, the 5 steps of the ESG and sustainability cycle, and prioritized...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!