In a chilling and emotional report from ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday night, new footage was shown from a camera mounted inside the CSX locomotive that struck a metal bed on the Doctortown train trestle in rural Georgia, causing 27-year-old Midnight Rider camerawoman Sarah Jones to be pulled towards the train and lose her life. A series of three clips from the show is posted below; they include commentary from Deadline’s Anita Busch and Jen Yamato.
The second clip has the new footage which reveals that the train needed a mile to stop and began sounding its whistle 26 seconds before impact. Stars William Hurt and Wyatt Russell can be seen attempting to get to safety along with other crew members at the near end of the trestle. Along with Jones’ parents Elizabeth and Richard, hairstylist Joyce Gilliard is interviewed in the three segments. She suffered a compound fracture when she was struck by the train on February 20 this year and recounts that one of the first things she saw after impact was Jones’ unrecognizable body. Director Randall Miller, she said, later came to visit her in the hospital, “He didn’t say anything, he just cried.”
Miller is seen in the third clip answering questions in a civil suit brought by Gregg Allman. The prosecutor asks, “Did you even employ anyone to go down the railroad track, maybe three or four miles down, to warn people when the train was coming?” Miller responds: “Unfortnately, that’s not my job.” The prosecutor again: “Do you know where anybody was down that track before that train accident occurred?” Miller: “Again, that’s not my job.” Prosecutor: “You didn’t ask CSX how many trains were coming down that trestle, did you?” Miller: “Again, that’s not my job.”
Miller adds that he “heard that if a train were to come that at the very least we would have 60 seconds” to evacuate. The prosecutor presses, “And you actually believed that you could get a metal bed off the track, and the people off the track, in 60 seconds.” Miller: “Well, I didn’t… Yes.”
It recently emerged that crew members were not told about an email from railroad owner CSX denying them permission to shoot on the Doctortown trestle, as at least 20 members piled onto the tracks 25 to 30 feet above the water under dangerous conditions. Miller contended in the civil suit that, “I’m not the one who does permits. I was in the middle of the track,” and, more emphatically, “I almost died.”
Sarah Jones’ father also commens in the clip, “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.” 20/20 said it found another trestle just a few hours away where an on-site official was able to shut down train traffic so the ABC News crew could film its report safely.
Miller his wife/producer Jody Savin, unit production manager/exec producer Jay Sedrish and first assistant director Hillary Schwartz have been indicted on criminal trespass and involuntary manslaughter charges with a trial set to begin on March 9.
Here are the 20/20 clips: