Midnight Rider filmmakers were indicted on felony charges of criminal trespass and involuntary manslaughter involving the demise of Sarah Jones. She was a camera assistant on the film, killed when a freight train hit her. Six other cast members were also injured. The incident occurred on a railroad trestle on a bridge above the Altamaha River in Doctortown, located in Wayne County, Georgia. Savin is Miller’s wife and business partner, according to The Seattle Times.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a Georgia grand jury indicted the director, Randall Miller, and two producers of Midnight Rider, executive producer Jay Sedrish and producer Jody Savin, on the felony charges on Thursday, July 3. A conviction on the charge of involuntary manslaughter and the criminal trespass charge could result in a prison sentence of 11 years each.
The cast and crew of the Gregg Allman biographical movie Midnight Rider had received permission to film in the area from the forest-products company Rayonier, which owns the land, but not on the CSX Railroad tracks, according to Wayne County sheriff’s investigators.
According to the indictment, the director and two producers of Midnight Rider were charged with unintentionally causing Jones’ death as a result of their having trespassed onto the railroad bridge. The indictment states that despite the CSX Railroad denying them access to filming on the railroad tracks, Miller and the two producers decided to film on the train trestle anyway.
The director reportedly had been given a schedule of trains and two trains went by on the tracks that were expected, according to the times on the schedule. The third train, however, came as a surprise to the director and producers, and it resulted in the death of Sarah Jones, 27, and the injuries of six other cast members on February 20, 2014.
According to authorities, the freight train had been traveling at 55 mph at the time of the crash. There should not have been any filming done on the railroad track, as the CSX Railroad company had not granted permission for that to happen.
Sarah Jones was killed and the other crew members injured when they were told to carry a metal bed frame out on to the tracks. According to the LA Times, the bed frame was a prop in a dream sequence. Sarah was killed when a freight train hit her. The other six crew members received their injuries when they were hit by flying pieces of the metal bed frame.
In May, the parents of Sarah Jones filed a civil suit against Gregg Allman and the filmmakers. That one and two other civil suits are still pending. Sarah Jones’ father, Richard, said that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would continue fighting for safer working conditions on the sets of movies. He stated that “Our mission remains the same: to ensure safety on all film sets. Safety for Sarah.”
During a court appearance in May, Randall Miller said that “We were told there were two trains from Rayonier coming through, and no more trains that day.”
William Hurt had been cast to play the role of rock legend Gregg Allman, but he has since decided to leave the project. Further shooting of Midnight Rider has been halted for now due to the tragic demise of Sarah Jones. Gregg Allman asked director Randall Miller in April to not continue on with his plans to make the film. Allman even filed a lawsuit, though he later dropped it, to have production on Midnight Rider stopped.
The three filmmakers charged in the grand jury indictment have not been arrested. They all reside in California. According to Joe Gardner, the lead sheriff’s investigator in the case, the director and two producers can probably turn themselves in when they journey to Georgia and at a later date.
Randall Miller, the director of the Gregg Allman biographical movie Midnight Rider, along with executive producer Jay Sedrish and producer Jody Savin, were all indicted by a grand jury in Georgia on the charges of criminal trespass and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the roles they played in the death of second cameraman Sarah Jones. She was killed by a freight train on a railroad bridge in Wayne County, Georgia. In April, according to TV Guide, the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health issued a report that stated that the death of Sarah Jones was “preventable.” Besides the criminal charges, the three filmmakers are also still facing three pending civil charges in the matter.
Written By Douglas Cobb