The movie, a biopic of Gregg Allman, was filming in February when a freight train crashed on a historic train trestle in Doctortown, Georgia. The crew were told only two trains would pass on the stretch of railway. The crew waited until two trains had passed to place a metal bed on the tracks for a dream sequence involving the actor William Hurt, who was playing Gregg Allman. At about 4:30 p.m., another train came at high speed. To try to avoid the oncoming train, crew members tried to run away, but not all of them got off the bridge in time. One that did not was Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old second camera assistant who was hit by the train and debris from the bed. Ms. Jones died of her injuries from the accident.
Sarah Jones was from South Carolina and started her film career as an intern on the set of the TV show Army Wives, where she was one of the most popular crew members. Her parents, Richard and Elizabeth Jones, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Chatham County State Court last week, alleging negligence causing Sarah’s death. The lawsuit names as defendants: movie producer Randall Miller, who is also the director of Midnight Rider; his wife Jody Savin; their production company Unclaimed Freight Productions; local production partner Meddin Studios; CSX Transportation; Open Road Films, the company that planned to distribute the film; unit production manager Jay Sedrish; first assistant director Hillary Schwartz; and Gregg Allman himself, as an executive producer.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of a long list of safety violations, which they claim caused Sarah Jones’ death. These violations include that they didn’t have permission to film on the railway and mislead the crew that they did have permission. The suit also claims that the producers didn’t take proper safety precautions, which should have included a safety meeting before filming. They also should have had an onsite medic and a representative of the railway on the filming location. The lawsuit alleges that these safety violations were contrary to film industry standards, especially for dangerous filming conditions. The lawsuit asks for unspecified punitive damages.
The producers were planning to restart production in June in Los Angeles, but the film is now uncertain since William Hurt, who had raised safety concerns even before the deadly accident, pulled out of the film.
The film industry rallied around Ms. Jones’ tragic death and friends and family are also calling for more safety on film sets across the country. They have started a social media campaign to try to get the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science to have a tribute to her during the Oscars.
Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorneys
If a loved one died unnecessarily due to the wrongful conduct of another, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues to help pay for any injuries and suffering, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.