A short video clip captures the frenzied moments before a train came slamming through the “Midnight Rider” film set on a Jesup train trestle last year. Camera assistant Sarah Jones died and several crew members were injured.
The clip would have been shown at trial, had there been one. Instead director Randall Miller reached a last minute plea agreement. He serves two years in custody and eight on probation. In exchange, charges were dropped against his wife and business partner Jody Savin.
Executive producer Jay Sedrish also pleaded guilty and got 10 years on probation.
This clip shows what the scene was supposed to be about:
All criminal cases stemming from the February 2014 incident are now resolved.
After Monday’s plea deal announcement, her father, Richard Jones, addressed reporters outside the Wayne County Courthouse.
“We hope the sacrifice of our daughter’s life will continue to change the film industry,” he said. “I believe it sends a message, frankly, that if you do not respect those you’re in charge of, you may end up behind bars.”
Steven Poster, president of the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600, issued this statement:
“There were no winners today. Randall Miller’s sentencing in the case involving the tragic death of IATSE Local 600 camera assistant Sarah Jones is nothing to be happy about. But the quick conclusion to the case does provide some small sense of closure following last year’s tragedy, and helps continue the healing process for Jones’ family, friends, and fellow crew members.
We cannot comment on the specifics of the legal proceedings, but we hope this sentencing sends a message to everyone in the industry that the safety measures already in place must be followed at all times. No movie or TV show is worth a life, which is why Safety on Set is our highest priority as a union.
We hope this message gets out to everybody in production — from student or low-budget films to major productions — and that workers recognize their rights to a safe set and safe working conditions at all times. We also hope all crew members will now feel empowered to speak out against unsafe working conditions. That’s why we developed our new safety app that includes the industry-wide safety bulletins and safety hotline numbers. We encourage workers to remember the spirit of Sarah and exercise those rights.”