William Hurt on 'Midnight Rider' Accident: 'We Had Less Than Thirty' Seconds
In a published email, the actor recounts the day camera assistant Sarah Jones died when the film crew shot on a live train track.
In his first remarks regarding the on-set death of a Midnight Rider crewmember, the film's star, William Hurt, is quoted stating that he brought up the danger of shooting on a train trestle.
Hurt and the crew were told they would have 60 seconds to get clear of the trestle if a train came, the actor wrote in an email to a friend according to a copy obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
"I said, 'Sixty seconds is not enough time to get us off this bridge.' There was a communal pause. No one backed me up," Hurt wrote.
"Then, we ..... Just went ahead. I took off my shoes, got on the heavy, metal hospital bed and began preparing," the actor, who was cast as Gregg Allman in the biopic of the musician, stated in the email. "We didn't have sixty seconds. We had less than thirty."
Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old camera assistant, was killed when struck by an oncoming train during preproduction while on a trestle over the Altamaha River in Wayne County, Ga. There were others in the 20-person film crew that were injured. Jones' death has sparked a debate over safety conditions on film sets.
A reconstruction of the accident by The Hollywood Reporter quoted Joyce Gilliard, a hairstylist working on Midnight Rider, with a similarly expressed concern about only having a minute to get clear of the tracks in case of a train. "Everybody on the crew was tripping over that," Gilliard recounted in the story. "A minute? Are you serious?"
Jones was mourned in an Atlanta memorial on March 2 and her name was included during the Academy Awards' In Memoriam tribute. Friends of the camera assistant have since set up a website where filmmakers can pledge workplace safety on set during production.