Sarah Jones was a 27-year old camera assistant working her way up in the world of film production when tragedy struck. During the production of Midnight Rider, a film about musician Gregg Allman, Jones and other crew members were setting up a shot on top of a train trestle in Georgia. A metal bed was lying on the tracks when a train roared through, smashing the bed and sending it flying into Sarah, who was then flung into the train, dying instantly.
A second person, hairstylist Joyce Gilliard, was also injured with a compound fracture. Gilliard said Jones’ body was unrecognizable.
This past weekend, ABC News’ 20/20 ran a story of the incident, and the aftermath, and included disturbing new footage showing several actors and crew members rushing to get off the train trestle. It’s grainy, but you can clearly see the bed on the tracks as the train rushes towards the crew and Sarah off to the right side of it.
Director Randall Miller was sued by Gregg Allman, and in court Miller denied any responsibility to the accident. But here’s the thing: train company CSX denied allowing the film crew to use the train trestle as a set because it would be too dangerous — Miller went ahead with the “guerrilla style” set-up anyway.
Sarah Jones’ parents also commented to ABC the stupidity of using the tracks as there were plenty of other tracks in the area that could have been used.
“Certainly the producers and director, they messed up they messed up real bad.” Her mother adds, “It was a live track, there were other tracks in the vicinity that certainly could have been used.”
Miller has been known to use ”guerrilla style” tactics before, most notably in the film CBGB. On March 9th, a trial is set to begin as Miller, his producer/wife Jody Savin, executive producer Jay Sedrish and first assistant director Hillary Schwartz are facing charges of manslaughter, and criminal trespassing.