EXCLUSIVE: A hearing will be held in federal court next week regarding the Midnight Rider train trestle accident that killed 27-year old camera assistant Sarah Jones to determine whether or not the film company behind the Gregg Allman biopic will have to pay fines levied against them by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That hearing will take place in Savannah next Tuesday, March 31 and could last through April 2. At issue is whether the defendants, production company Film Allman, LLC, which was set up by director/producer/co-writer Randall Miller and producer/co-writer Jody Savin, will agree to the terms of the citation and pay $74,900 in fines for “one willful and one serious safety violation” or if it will go to trial. The case is known as Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez vs. Film Allman, LLC.
The parties had previously disputed the citation, however that was in September of 2014, well before Miller pled guilty to criminal trespass and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Jones. Miller and other supervising crew members on his team have now admitted to being on the track illegally.
Specifically, the OSHA report found that the film crew had been working on a live railroad track “without any safety procedures established such as securing the track from any type of train traffic in the area or having a plan that would allow ample time for everyone to exit the trestle with all of their equipment and props. This exposed employees to a hazard of being struck by a train traveling on the tracks.” The report also found that the producers had not obtained permission from the owner of the train trestle they were filming on.
NTSB report states: “NTSB investigators were told during interviews with film staff that there was a discussion about CSX’s email on the morning of the accident. In an interview, the location manager stated that he informed the producer, the director, the writer, and the first-assistant director about CSX’s denial of permission for filming on the railroad property. Furthermore, the location manager said that the director insisted that filming would proceed despite CSX’s denial of permission. As a result, the location manager refused to participate in the film shoot; although he could not prohibit the film crew from working.”
The film’s unit production manager Jay Sedrish, and first assistant director Hillary Schwartz were also convicted earlier this month of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass. Miller is currently serving a two-year jail sentence and then will serve 8 years probation. Charges against Savin were dismissed. Sedrish and Schwartz were released on 10 years probation. Miller’s attorney, Ed Garland, did not return phone calls.