The Gregg Allman director of the planned biopic, Midnight Rider, Randall Miller, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing charges as a part of a plea deal. During filming of the biopic a year ago in Georgia, Sarah Jones, 27, of Atlanta, who was a camera assistant working on the film, was killed by a train collision on a railroad bridge on February 20, 2014. The train also injured six of the other members of the movie crew.
On Monday, the judge in the case sentenced Gregg Allman biopic director Randall Miller to a ten year sentence, involving a combination of two years in jail along with eight years of probation. As a part of the terms of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped charges against both Randall’s business partner and wife, Jody Savin.
Jay Sedrish, the executive producer of the Gregg Allman biopic, also pleaded guilty. He was not sentenced to any jail time, but the judge gave him ten years on probation for his part in the death of Sarah Jones.
The tragic death of assistant camerawoman, Sarah Jones, while working on the Gregg Allman movie in Jesup, Georgia, prompted a push by film workers for there to be put into place improved safety standards on film sets. While nobody should have had to die to get the safety standards improved, as Sarah’s father, Richard Jones, stated, Sarah’s death sent the film industry the message that “if you do not respect those you’re in charge of, you may end up behind bars.”
According to prosecutors, all of the three defendants, Randall Miller, Jay Sedrish, and Miller’s wife, Jody Savin, knew that they had been denied permission, in writing, by the owners of the railroad trestle, CSX Transportation, to do any filming on the Gregg Allman biopic on its railroad tracks. Yet, the three film executives went ahead and attempted to film on the tracks spanning the Altamaha River, anyway.
The script of the Gregg Allman biopic that the filmmakers were working from included a dream sequence scene that had actor William Hurt, in a hospital bed, placed directly on the railroad tracks. The filmmakers considered rewriting the script to take that scene out, but Randall Miller decided to go ahead and shoot it after he obtained permission from the person who owned the property around the tracks to use his land. According to Assistant District Attorney John B. Johnson, Miller did not think that any more trains would be running that day.
However, Miller was mistaken. A train crashed into the metal-framed bed at a speed of 55 miles per hour and pieces of metal from the bed went flying like shrapnel. Crew members on the tracks, working on the Gregg Allman movie, tried to get out of harm’s way and some of them clung tightly to the metal railing of the railroad bridge to escape getting hit by the train and the flying metal.
According to Johnson, the assistant camerawoman on the Gregg Allman Midnight Rider biopic, Sarah Jones, “died instantly” when she “was hit by the edge of the fuel tank and was run over by the train.”
Gregg Allman Midnight Rider biopic director, Randall Miller, will serve his sentence of two years at the Wayne County jail in Georgia. After his jail sentence is up, Miller will be on probation for eight more years and he must, in addition, pay a fine of $20,000. Miller will also be barred, while serving his probation, from directing or otherwise have anything to do with producing a film.
Ed Garland, who was engaged as Randall Miller’s attorney, believes that his client might only have to serve a year in jail before he is released. Garland stated that the Gregg Allman director wanted to prevent his wife, Jody, from being prosecuted, so he decided to agree to the plea deal. Savin reportedly left the courthouse in tears. Ed Garland added that it was never Randall Miller’s intention to place anyone in the Gregg Allman biopic, Midnight Rider, film crew in any sort of risk.
There are still currently charges pending against a fourth film executive involved in the Gregg Allman Midnight Rider biopic case, assistant director Hillary Schwartz. Schwartz, according to prosecutors, will be tried next.
Musical artist, Gregg Allman, does not want the Midnight Rider biopic completed. He sued Randall Miller to stop the director from trying to continue making the film. In 2014, Gregg Allman and Miller settled out of court.
Though Gregg Allman is not one of the defendants, he originally had been named as one, along with Open Road Films and executive producer Michael Lehman, who is also Allman’s manager. Gregg Allman’s name had been listed as being an executive producer of Midnight Rider. He was also dropped from a planned civil lawsuit seeking to claim monetary damages. Shortly after the death of assistant camerawoman, Sarah Jones, on February 20, 2014, actor William Hurt cut all ties with the production of the Gregg Allman Midnight Rider biopic.
Gregg Allman has been shaken by the tragic loss of Sarah Jones, and he stated that “Sarah’s memory must be an ongoing testament to film safety.”
Randall Miller, the director of the Gregg Allman Midnight Rider biopic, will now be spending at least one year of the two year jail term he has been sentenced to behind bars in Wayne County, Georgia, on charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing, as a part of a plea deal he made with the prosecutors of the case. He had been going to plead not guilty, but by agreeing to the terms of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to try Miller’s wife, Jody Savin, of the same charges.
Written By Douglas Cobb