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Judge Upholds "'Midnight Rider"' Citation

By Jordy Byrd

midnight rider citation

A federal judge upheld a $74,900 OSHA citation against Film Allman LLC, the 'Midnight Rider' production company this week. Citations were issued following the death of Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old camera assistant, who was killed while trying to escape an oncoming freight train in February. Eight other workers were injured by debris.

Producers contested the fines and shut down production following the incident. Jones was filming the movie "Midnight Rider," a biopic based on the life of musician Gregg Allman. OSHA cited Film Allman LLC in August 2014 for one willful and one serious safety violation for exposing employees to struck-by and fall hazards.

"Bad management decisions have real and lasting consequences, and when those decisions involve safety, the consequences can be tragic. The death of Sarah Jones is particularly disheartening because it was entirely preventable.”

Film makers had been denied permission to film on the tracks by the CSX Corp. which owns the railway. Director Randall Miller received a two-year jail sentence and eight years’ probation for involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing because of the incident. Assistant Director Hillary Schwartz was sentenced to 10 year' probation and received a $5,000 fine.

'Midnight Rider' Accident

The movie crew was filming a scene on the tracks of the Doctortown train trestle in Jesup, Ga. when a  train came barreling toward them. Crew members immediately exited the tracks, attempting to remove set pieces and get off the trestle, but were unable to outrun the train. Jones was killed and crew members were injured by debris from a hospital bed used as a prop.

OSHA issued a willful citation for the employer's failure to provide safety measures to protect employees from moving trains. A serious citation was also issued for exposing crew to fall hazards while working on a train trestle that was not equipped with safety guardrails or other fall protection measures.

Jones' death triggered within amongst the television and film industry, uniting workers to demand safer working conditions. More than 4,000 film professionals signed “A Pledge to Sarah,” vowing that “a safe set will be my first and highest priority.”