Gregg Allman has been named in a wrongful death lawsuit over the tragic demise of a young second assistant camerawoman, Sarah Jones, who was on a railroad trestle with other members of the film crew of the biopic Midnight Rider. The railroad trestle overlooked a river, and Miss Jones was unable to get out of the path of the speeding freight train barreling down on her. She was struck and killed by the train and six other members of the film crew were injured.
Midnight Rider was being filmed in Savannah, Georgia, on Feb. 20 when the tragic incident occurred. The lawsuit was filed in Chatham County State Court on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, by attorney Jeffrey R. Harris, who represents Richard and Elizabeth Jones, the parents of Sarah Jones, 27.
Besides Allman being named in the lawsuit, 18 people involved who worked for the film company shooting the biopic and the railroad company were also named, including the director, Randall Miller, and Don Mandrik, Jeffrey N. Gant, Jay Sedrish, and Michael Lehman, who were executive producers of the Gregg Allman biopic.
An Atlanta-based attorney for Gregg Allman, David Long-Daniels, said in a statement that the inclusion of his client in the wrongful death lawsuit was both “unwarranted” and “without merit.” Allman’s attorney added that his client had nothing to do with “securing any location for the making of the movie.”
Though Gregg Allman was listed as an executive producer of the film in the lawsuit, he was not on the scene when the freight train took the life of Sarah Jones. Allman’s attorney, David Long-Daniels, said that his client had creative input into the film’s script,casting, and the music which would be included in it, but had nothing to do with the location where it would be shot.
According to investigators from the sheriff’s department, the film company didn’t have the railroad company’s permission to be on the railroad. The movie company had permission to film around the tracks, but not on them. The railroad company had reportedly provided the film company with a schedule of when trains would be using the track in the vicinity where they were shooting. Two trains had already passed by on the tracks. The third one, the freight train which hit and killed Sarah Jones, was unexpected.
Gregg Allman has said that he had sent an email to director Randall Miller to think about the possibility of completing Midnight Rider. Allman thought, at the time, that there was a window during which the biopicc might have been resumed. However, the tragic loss of Sarah Jones, and the loss and grief that her parents are experiencing and the pain and suffering of the other victims and families of the victims led him “to realize that for you to continue production would be wrong.”
With the wrongful death lawsuit filed by an attorney representing the parents of Sarah Jones against Gregg Allman and the other 17 people named, maybe we’ll find out for once and for all to what extent anyone who is having a biopic made of his/her life can be held accountable to the injuries and/or death that could occur during production.
Written by: Douglas Cobb