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Crew Member's Death Prompts Investigation Into 'Midnight Rider;' Production Suspended

Photo of Paula Bernstein By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire February 26, 2014 at 3:50PM

Cast members of "Midnight Rider" are being released and told that they will be called back at a future date -- though the future of the troubled production remains in question given the questions swirling around crew member Sarah Jones' accidental death.
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Sarah Jones
(Source: South Carolina Film Council on Facebook) Sarah Jones

Following the death of second camera assistant Sarah Jones during production of the new Greg Allman biopic "Midnight Rider," the production's future is now in question. As we previously reported, filming on the production was temporarily halted after Jones' death. Now Variety reports that cast members are being released and told that they will be called back at a future date -- though the future of the troubled production remains in question given the questions swirling around Jones' death.

There are also potential criminal ramifications as troubling details about the production emerge. For instance, there wasn't a full tech scout on hand, nor was there a set medic or railroad safety officer when Jones was killed and 7 people were seriously injured, according to local Savannah, GA news station WTOC.

Detectives interviewed crew members, who also received grief counseling set up by union representatives. Jones was killed by a train while shooting a dream sequence on a railroad trestle with a hospital bed on live train tracks. Variety reports that the film's star William Hurt, director Randall Miller and the production's still photographer tried their best to remove the bed, but were unable to do so in time to spare Jones' life.

It's unclear whether the film crew had permission from the railroad operator to film on the tracks. Seven other crew members were treated at a hospital for injuries they sustained on the 110-year-old trestle above the Altamaha River in Savannah, Georgia.

Read More: Sarah Jones' Death Highlights Dangers Crew Members Face on Set

The International Cinematographers Guild, of which Jones was a member, is working with government agencies to investigate Jones' death and the circumstances around it, according to The Los Angeles Times. Steven Poster, president of the International Cinematographers Guild (Local 600) said that union officials went to the accident site immediately after learning of the tragedy and that the union was cooperating with government investigations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board as well as the local sheriff's office.

The crew was reportedly authorized to shoot in the area near the train tracks, but it's unclear whether they were actually permitted to film on the train tracks. A new incident report out of Wayne County shows the producers were denied permission to be on the tracks, according to a local Savannah, GA news station WTOC report. Local authorities have impounded a camera, which was rolling during the accident.

Sadly, this is far from the first time that an on-set accident led to a crew member's death. Wikipedia highlights a gruesome list of injuries and deaths during past productions, including the death of actor Vic Morrow and two children on the set of "The Twilight Zone: The Movie" in 1983 and Brandon Lee, who was accidentally killed on the set of "The Crow" in 1994.


This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit: Production, Midnight Rider: The Gregg Allman Story, Midnight Rider






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