'Midnight Rider' Production Company Cited for Willful, Serious Safety Violations in Death of Sarah Jones
The camera assistant was struck and killed by a train on the set of the Gregg Allman biopic
The production company behind the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider has been cited by the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for "one willful and one serious safety violation" in the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones.
OSHA announced Thursday that Film Allman exposed employees to "struck-by and fall hazards" and has proposed a $74,900 fine for its violations. Film Allman has 15 business days to contest OSHA's findings.
Jones was struck and killed by a train on the Georgia movie set in February. Since then, local and national authorities have been investigating the incident, and director Randall Miller and producers Jody Savin and Jay Sedrish have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass. Miller, Savin, Sedrish and other entities associated with the film are also facing a few civil suits, including one filed by Jones' parents. Eight other workers were injured in the incident.
“Employers are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect workers’ health and safety, and the entertainment industry is no exception,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “It is unacceptable that Film Allman LLC knowingly exposed their crew to moving trains while filming on a live track and railroad trestle.”
OSHA's Southeast region administrator added that Jones' death and the crewmembers' injuries were due to the production company's "failure to develop a safety plan to prevent such hazards, including obtaining permission from the rail owner to use the tracks for filming."
OSHA notes that a "willful violation" is, "one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health." A "serious violation," meanwhile, "occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known," OSHA says.
The National Council on Occupational Safety and Health previously listed Jones' death as a preventable fatality, with hairstylist Joyce Gilliard, who was also injured by the train that killed Jones, agreeing with that assessment. Gilliard has since filed a civil lawsuit against the film's producers.