The filmmakers behind the ill-fated production of Midnight Rider, a planned biopic on the life of classic rocker Gregg Allman, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter over the on-set death of camera assistant Sarah Jones in February.
The Wayne County District Attorney‘s office in Georgia handed down the charges, along with criminal trespass, to director Randall Miller, and producers Jody Savin and Jay Sedrish over the death, which has sparked a wave of momentum within the Hollywood community, aiming to raise awareness of the safety of film crews.
The incident occurred on February 20th mere hours into the first day of shooting for the film. The crew had set up to shoot a dream sequence on a narrow train bridge that involved placing a metal framed bed on the tracks. The production had previously been denied permission to film on the bridge, however they went ahead with the shoot regardless. The crew on the bridge were informed that, in the event a train came, they had 60 seconds to clear the bridge. However when a train did unexpectedly appear, they had nowhere near that amount of time before it arrived, forcing the crew to cling to the side of the bridge to escape. The train struck the metal bed frame, turning it into flying shrapnel. A piece of the shrapnel struck Sarah Jones, forcing her into the path of the train which struck and killed her. The shrapnel injured several other crew members.
Jones’ passing triggered an outpouring of grief, with a petition successfully circulated to get her included in the In Memoriam video montage during the Academy Awards broadcast. In addition, the Safety For Sarah campaign formed, aimed at increasing safety awareness for film crew members. A 2 minute Safety For Sarah PSA was shot and uploaded a mere week ago.
Since the death of Sarah Jones, the film has ceased production almost entirely, with star William Hurt pulling out of the role. Though producers remain adamant the project will be shot and completed in spite of the accident and subsequent charges.
Photo: David McNew via Getty Images.