The late Sarah Jones’ grieving mother Elizabeth Jones gave a victim impact statement to the court this morning in Jesup, GA, following the guilty plea of Midnight Rider director Randall Miller. She stood before the court and spoke of her daughter in loving remembrance. The statement was heartbreaking as she addressed the life of her 27-year-old daughter, a young camera assistant who died on February 20, 2014 on the train tracks after the supervising crew criminally trespassed to steal a shot for the film about rocker Gregg Allman. Here is her statement, in part:
“To tell of the character of Sarah Jones, one must first understand in every sense of the word, Sarah was a character. She was distinctly her own person. To discover what was behind her effervescent smile or her bubbly giddiness was to discover such a positive life force that nothing could or would stand in her way of achievement. She was happy, she was content. For every known word that could characterize Sarah, there is none more distinct or accurate than the word ‘genuine.’ Sarah always gave you her better, her uncontested presence of who she was and you knew where you stood on most any subject. She was genuine. She was down to earth.
“Give Sarah any topic of conversation and one knew where she stood. She invited others into her world. There were no boundaries, no barriers, no circles. She loved people.”
Talking about going through her daughter’s belongings, Elizabeth Jones said that she has a crate of her daughters things.
“The crate that sits before me is labeled ‘costumes.’ As I open the lid, I halfway smile. Her tutu outfit, her cowboy outfit, her cowboy hat, killer bunny slippers, and a plastic sword. More outfits, more costumes, as a kid Sarah loved dress-up. Pipi Longstocking, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Minnie Mouse. I discovered that as an adult, Sarah still enjoyed dress-up.”
“Her friends tell me that Sarah was quite adept at taking on a character and how much fun Sarah could make any occasion. I put the lid back on the crate. That box can wait. Even after one year of her being gone, I find I am not ready to deal with this. I go to the next box. ‘Writing, Thoughts, Meditations.’ I open the box and find spiral bound notebooks, tablets, pieces of paper, all with quotes or inspiration or some phrase I remember her once talking about. She would write what inspired her, she would write the things she questioned, and she would write what she had just learned. Sarah was a deep thinker, wise beyond her years. Together now, stored in a box, is a summation of her inner self.
“Sarah was big on communication. ‘If something is on your mind, say it.’ She was all about putting yourself out there. Life is too short to leave things unsaid. Not always fun to face the facts or deal with ‘What is’ but more often than not, she was right. Her life was too short. I decide to wait on this box. It brings on emotions of sadness. Sarah had so much to offer.
“The next box is labeled ‘Books.’ I open the lid and find titles that amaze me. ‘The Once and Future King,’ a book of poetry, Thoreau, Hemingway, ‘The Cinematographer’s Manual.’ She enjoyed reading and usually had a book with her just in case she would find herself with a few spare minutes. It was not uncommon that she sometimes read two, maybe three books at a time. I once asked her how she could read multiple titles at the same time. ‘It depends on how I feel at the moment as to what I want to read,’ she said. The diversity of her interest was in a box. I took her books and made room on our book shelf. One day I may read them myself.
“Next crate … ‘Gear.’ Inside I found her adventures. Scuba gear. She had just acquired her advance PADA certificate while on a trip to Belize. She thought that one day she might enjoy filming underwater. Dirt bike boots and a helmet. A year earlier, Sarah had earned her motorcycle license. She loved adventure and she was fearless. Now her adventures are packed away, in a box, stacked with the rest of her life. Too many boxes for such a short life.
“Boxes of Sarah still sit in my living room. I think about it and smile. This was her favorite room. She would sit on the couch, bundled with a blanket wrapped around her and listen to her father play the piano. She love hearing his music. ‘When I get married,’ she would say, ‘I hope my husband can play the piano.’ We will never know. It seems only right that for now, the content of the boxes of her life remain in the room with her father;s piano. One day we’ll sort through her things. But for now, the boxes remain.”