Midnight Rider Filmmakers Manslaughter

Through their attorneys, “Midnight Rider” filmmakers Randall Miller and Jody Savin issued a public statement in which they call the Feb. 22 train accident that killed Sarah Jones a “horrible tragedy and horrific accident” but say that they did not commit a crime.

“In the weeks and months that follow when the true facts of the events are revealed, people will know that this was not a crime: we never had criminal intent; we would never knowingly or intentionally put anybody’s safety at risk,” they wrote.

Miller, the director, and his wife Savin, a producer, pleaded not guilty after being indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal tresspassing. Executive producer Jay Sedrish also was charged and turned himself into Wayne County, Ga. authorities on Thursday. He was booked and released on bail.

Miller and Savin are also pushing back against any notion that they were careless.

“We have been in the television and movie business since 1990,” they wrote.  “We have produced and directed more than 10 features and television movies. We have always emphasized the safety of the crew. In all those years we have never had a significant injury or accident of any kind. We believe in protecting our crew – the crew who work so hard on our movies. We consider them to be family. Many of them have worked with us on several of our films. All of our movies have been union films. No crew member has ever left one of our movies over a concern about safety. As members of the WGA, the DGA, SAG, the Television Academy and the IATSE, we believe in living up to the aspirations of those organizations.”

The case has centered on whether the filmmakers had permission to shoot on the trestle, which is owned by CSX. In the aftermath of the accident, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office said that CSX claimed that they did not have permission to shoot there, even though they did have permission to shoot on the property surrounding it. On Tuesday, Ed Garland, one of Miller and Savin’s attorneys, told Variety that “in their role they had no knowledge that there was any issue about their ability to be on the railroad tracks to shoot the scene.”

The letter from Miller and Savin, released through their attorneys, is below:

Today we entered a Not-Guilty plea to the indictment that was handed down in Wayne County, Georgia.
We have remained silent out of respect for the family of Sarah Jones, their loved ones and all of the crew who were injured on that very sad day February 20th, 2014.

This devastating loss of Sarah, a young crew member who was just starting out with us, will haunt us forever.  Our hearts are broken, our spirits are broken.   We have young children and can only imagine with immense sadness the heartbreak of losing a child.  We are praying for Sarah’s family.

We have been in the television and movie business since 1990. We have produced and directed more than 10 features and television movies.  We have always emphasized the safety of the crew. In all those years we have never had a significant injury or accident of any kind.   We believe in protecting our crew – the crew who work so hard on our movies. We consider them to be family. Many of them have worked with us on several of our films.  All of our movies have been union films. No crew member has ever left one of our movies over a concern about safety.   As members of the WGA, the DGA, SAG, the Television Academy and the IATSE, we believe in living up to the aspirations of those organizations.

In the weeks and months that follow when the true facts of the events are revealed, people will know that this was not a crime: we never had criminal intent; we would never knowingly or intentionally put anybody’s safety at risk. This was a horrible tragedy and a horrific accident.
We will dedicate ourselves in the future to honoring Sarah’s memory by promoting the safest work environment for everybody in the film industry.
Humbly,
Randy Miller and Jody Savin

 

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