‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Charged in Sarah Jones’ Death
Prosecutors in Georgia have charged three ‘Midnight Rider’ filmmakers with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing following the Feb. 20 death of crew member Sarah Jones.
27-year-old Jones was struck by a train while filming on a narrow bridge over the Altamaha River on the first day of filming the Gregg Allman biopic.
Randall Miller, Jody Savin and Jay Sedrish have all been charged in the incident. Under Georgia law, the manslaughter charge could carry a 10-year prison sentence, with the misdemeanor trespassing charge adding another year. Miller and Savin are the owners of the film’s production company, Unclaimed Freight Productions Inc., and Sedrish was the executive producer. Miller is also the film’s director.
Jones’ family filed a wrongful death suit against Miller, Savin and Sedrish on May 21, alleging that they failed to obtain permission to produce on the bridge and that they concealed the danger of the situation from the crew. Also named as defendants were Allman, the film’s distributor Open Road Films and the companies that own the tracks and surrounding land.
Jones was struck by the train while filming a dream sequence on the bridge, which included star William Hurt on a hospital bed in the tracks. The crew were told that they would have one minute to clear the tracks if they heard a train whistle, but an oncoming train arrived at the scene less than a minute after blowing its whistle.
The train struck the bed in the tracks, sending shrapnel flying. Jones was hit by a piece of metal, fell into the path of the train and was struck and killed. Several other crew members were injured in the incident. A makeup artist and a hairstylist have also sued the same defendants over their injuries.
Allman contacted Miller after the incident to ask him to stop filming, but his request was denied. In May, he filed a suit against Unclaimed Freight Productions to stop production. The suit was dropped a couple of weeks later.