Sarah Elizabeth Jones Struck By A Train and Killed While Filming Gregg Allman Biopic
Tragedy struck southeast Georgia when a freight train unexpectedly arrived on the set where the film’s crew had been shooting a dream sequence to the film Midnight Rider a Gregg Allman biopic.
The crew, which had been filming a mattress on the tracks while on the bridge, was sent scrambling. According to Variety, the film crew had been provided with a train schedule. They had planned for the arrival of two earlier trains, but the last one left them in complete surprise.
Director Randall Miller tried removing the mattress and tripped before the still photographer pulled him off the tracks, thus saving his life.
Meanwhile, the train was unable stop, struck the bed, which sent debris flying. One of the pieces of debris hit Sarah, and she fell onto the tracks.
The freight train blew a warning whistle, giving crew less than a minute to react the train. Not having enough time to run for safety, seven members were injured and 27-year old second camera assistant Sarah Elizabeth Jones died instantly.
Confusion has arisen as to the access permissions of the crew regarding their presence on the track Open Road Films, Unclaimed Freight and the Meddin Studios film crew had permission to shoot ‘Midnight Rider‘ near the railroad tracks, but they did not have permission to be on it, authorities said.
“I do believe there is going to be an issue about whether they had permission to be on the tracks,” Wayne County Sheriff’s Det. Joe Gardner told the Los Angeles Times. Russell Schweiss, a spokesman for Rayonier, said the film crew had been granted permission to shoot on the company’s land for one day.
The railroad track’s operator, CSX, issued this statement:
“CSX is deeply saddened by the tragedy on a CSX rail bridge in Doctortown, Ga., and continues to cooperate fully with authorities,” CSX spokeswoman Kristin Seay said in a statement about the train.
“All of us on the production team are devastated by the tragic accident that happened,” spokeswoman Nadine Jolson said on behalf of Unclaimed Freight Productions and Meddin Studios. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our crew member.”
Who is the blame for the death of Sarah Elizabeth Jones?
To say that it was the fault of the train’s engineer is not getting at the root cause of her untimely death, as trains are not vehicles which can break on a dime.
Why was she on the tracks in the first place? What was the policy of the film crew and director Randall Miller about filming at such a potentially dangerous location, and what safety procedures, if any, were in place? Did anyone try to save her?
These were just a few of the many questions that haunted investigators as they began their search for the answers of what led up to the death of Sarah Elizabeth Jones.
Ms. Jones began her film career while interning on the set of “Army Wives,” a popular television show. With her spunk and determination, she continued to climb the ranks of the film industry, quickly finding a passion in the art of cinematography.
Throughout her career, Jones had also worked as a camera assistant on the television show “The Vampire Diaries”, several commericals and a couple of made-for-TV-movies.
Meanwhile, A petition campaign has been launched to include Sarah Jones, the 27-year-old camera assistant killed in last week’s train accident on the set of “Midnight Rider,” in the In Memoriam segment in Sunday’s Oscar cast.
A memorial service for Jones is scheduled for Wednesday at Ashland United Methodist Church in Columbia, S.C. Other memorials are scheduled for Wednesday in Lexington, S.C., and for Sunday in Atlanta.
The Obituary of Sarah Jones can be found @ http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/charleston/obituary.aspx?n=sarah-elizabeth-jones&pid=169841050
Furthermore, Twitter and Facebook have started their campaign called “Slates for Sarah” as a way for production crews offer their own tribute to Jones, posting photos of film slates bearing messages in memorial.
Rest in Peace Sarah Jones.