In Wake of Train Accident, Campaign Launched for On-Set Safety 'Watchdog'
A petition campaign has been launched to include Sarah Jones, the 27-year-old camera assistant killed in last week’s train accident on the set of “Midnight Rider,” in the In Memoriam segment on Sunday’s Oscarcast.
“Only 27 years old, her promising life was cut short when she was struck by a train working on a dangerous set,” the petition reads. “Crew members are the unsung heroes of film and television production who work long hours and sometimes very dangerous conditions for the love of filmmaking. Sarah Elizabeth Jones was one of us.”
“We ask for Sarah Elizabeth Jones’ love and passion for filmmaking be acknowledged on the grandest stage of all, The Academy Awards.”
The site had more than 17,000 signatures by late Tuesday.
A memorial service for Jones is scheduled for Wednesday at Ashland United Methodist Church in Columbia, S.C. Other memorials are scheduled for Wednesday in Lexington, S.C., and for Sunday in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, a Facebook page called “Slates for Sarah” has been set up in which production crews offer their own tribute to Jones, posting photos of film slates bearing messages in memoriam. It is also a mobilization campaign to garner support for an industrywide effort to add a watchdog to film sets to monitor safety procedures.
“We need one person on every set, ‘camera test,’ splinter, second, third or fourth unit who knows safety and the rules, does not get a check directly from production, and is not afraid to call anyone out when they are not doing their job.”The working title for the watchdogs who will prowl every location of every set, large and small, is Sarah’s Team. And yes they will have the coolest socks and hats and be the most fun person on set. It will always be easy to spot ‘Sarah’s Team,’ you will know them well, so they can know you and keep you safe.”
Seven others were injured in the train accident on Thursday near Jesup, Ga. It is still under investigation by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, CSX transportation police, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
The film’s star, William Hurt, was on the set when the accident occurred, but got off the tracks unharmed, according to two sources who were present at the time. A spokeswoman for the actor said he would have no comment.