Train Accident Kills Crew Member of Gregg Allman Biopic

Midnight Rider Death
Courtesy of WSAV3 and Jerry Hogan

Director and crew were filming dream sequence on bridge in Georgia

A second camera assistant was killed Thursday afternoon when a freight train struck and killed her on the set of the Gregg Allman biopic “Midnight Rider,” sources confirm to Variety.

Four other people were injured in the accident, one seriously.  The event happened in Wayne County, Ga.

An eyewitness told Variety the movie crew was filming a dream sequence on a railroad trestle when a train unexpectedly crossed the bridge.

The crew, including director Randall Miller, had placed a bed on the tracks for the scene and was expecting two trains on the local bridge, one in each direction, when a third train arrived unexpectedly.

A whistle warned the crew members of the next train, giving them less than a minute, which was too late.

Miller, who also directed the 2008 film “Bottle Shock,” and the still photographer rushed to get the bed off the tracks while the rest of the crew tried to get off the bridge on a plank walk-way. They were still trying to get off the bridge when the train arrived. The second camera assistant was then struck and killed by the train.

Miller had fallen onto the tracks before the train arrived but the still photographer pulled him off, according to the witness, saving his life. The bed was then hit by the train and exploded. That debris hit and injured several people, including one seriously, who was airlifted to Savannah’s Memorial Health University Medical Center.

A hair dresser also suffered injuries during the accident and was admitted to the hospital while at least two other people from the crew, none seriously injured, were awaiting treatment in the emergency room at Wayne Memorial Hospital in Jesup, Ga.

Sheriff John Carter of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department said that his office received three separate 911 calls reporting the accident at 4:37 p.m. on Thursday. He said the freight train was operated by CSX Corp and that the rail line forms a single track as it crosses the river at that point in the trestle bridge where the incident occurred.

CSX issued a statement on the accident. “CSX is deeply saddened by a tragedy that occurred late today on a CSX rail bridge in Doctortown, Ga., and is cooperating fully with authorities as they investigate.  Initial reports indicate that at least three people were injured, one fatally.  CSX personnel are working with first responders to meet the needs of those injured.  A train was en route from Memphis to Savannah when the incident occurred.”

Starring William Hurt and Tyson Ritter as Allman, “Midnight Rider” is set to be released by Open Road in the U.S.

Allman is also an executive producer on the film.

Update: A publicist for the production released a statement late on Thursday. “All of us on the production team are devastated by the tragic accident that happened today. Our thoughts are prayers are with the family of our crew member.”

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  1. spike driver says:

    I have to ask myself if safety at train tracks is taught to drivers ed. students. The golden rule of track workers is (expect movement at any time of the day or night, in either direction). Perhaps some drivers approach a crossing thinking more GO than Whoa.

  2. Mrs. Debra Reeves says:

    How many people do we have to lose so no one has to go through this. with their life before something is done about the rail road crossings all through America, I lost my Daughter due to a crossing in Ga without all the bells and arms ect. shorty after her death they put up everything that should have been there a long time ago. because of this, I shall never know what it is like to be a grand mother or any thing isn’t ,. their anyone who can do something to stop the madness with un safe tracks. I am lost without my one and only daughter and Child who was about to get married and start her new life instead she is gone. my heart shall always cry for my Crystal Nicole Crews.

  3. jbg757 says:

    How can the director and associates be so incompetent by not insuring the safety of the film crew? No planning? They will be sued heavily for this.

  4. Lew Lee says:

    EVERY US working railroad operates under Federal Railway Law, and under that law, a railroad’s physical Right of Way has precedence, because FREIGHT TRAINS CANNOT PANIC STOP WITHOUT SERIOUS RISK OF DERAILMENT.

    THEREFORE, NO ONE is supposed to be filming on ANY active rail track in the US without legal permission of the operating authority, in this case CSX.

    WHY?

    Because automatic switching is handled from one thousand miles away at a central office.

    There is no way that the engineers can predict what is up ahead without radio communication from central.

    Now, when someone is trespassing on the train’s Right of Way without permission, no one at the central office is aware of it, and thus cannot forewarn the locomotive engineers. Unfortunately, by the time the locomotive engineers have an eyeball on an object, or persons, on a track, it is usually too late to stop a 10,000-20,000 TON freight train.

    Therefore, it is incumbent upon anyone in its way to have an escape plan and immediately move out of harm’s the way.

    Therefore, the production is entirely at fault for this needless death, in multiple ways. Remember, 8 crew members were hurt, and the locomotive’s engineers and crew have to live with the death for the rest of their lives. Talk about PTSD. Lawsuit and prosecution of those at fault are warranted, but that will not bring back human life.

    The entire thing was completely preventable and that is the REAL tragedy here.

    • BMJ says:

      Accurately and well said, Lew. As a former 911 Dispatcher, I am well aware of how the dispatching works with the railroad companies. I have been involved – actually handled a call with this particular company – in stopping a train when there was an obstruction on the tracks. That call was a success. I might add, in defense of all railroad companies – the train in the call that I handled was miles away – yet, it still took time to make the call to their dispatch, for them to contact the conductor and do whatever they have to do on their end, and actually stop the train!!

    • Lew Lee says:

      Automatic Train Control (sic)

  5. Nancy Smith says:

    Tragic loss of a young woman with so much to offer. She loved her job, made every one comfortable with the way she performed her job too. It’s hard to find individuals that just ‘fit’ right in these crews, and keep them in sync, and the production running smooth. I’ve lived adjacent to tracks for many years, walked them to reach places, been berated by engineers who had the audacity to sneak up behind me with a 5000hp, 200 ton gigantic mass as if it was a cat. These tracks however, were familiar areas for me, i knew their train schedules, one went south about 920am and the same engine returned north about 5pm every day. Many who lived near used this trackbed to access a fishing area on weekends, for as long as i lived (60++) years, never had a fatality from a train, only a fellow who leaped off a trestle to take a swim and hit his head on underwater rocks and drowned. Awareness of your surroundings is often lessened when doing a task such as movie production, the intensity of focus can seem to make the rest of the world disappear. I am astounded there were no personnel assigned as ‘perimeter watch’ for just this type of danger, an approaching train. And moreover, a plan of escape in such a confined location, would be important. Best to drop your equipment and sit on the edge and let the train pass. This death could have been avoided. She was a lovely woman too.

  6. JoeDurango says:

    Terrible Terrible tragedy that could have been much worse.

    How could something like this happen in 2014?

  7. My thoughts and prayers are with all the people directly impacted by this terrible tragedy. I can only hope that this production was doing everything by the book. From everything I’ve read, it doesn’t seem to be the case, sadly. That means this could have been prevented.

  8. Poe says:

    It is simple. No one should be on the tracks. Not even employees, unless given proper protections and permissions. Stay away from the tracks. Stay away from the tracks. Stay away from the tracks. Stay away from the tracks….. Get the idea YET?

  9. don mule says:

    Follow up thought to the below evaluation:

    I am assuming the mattress was laid down vertically, in between the tracks and on the railroad ties (wooden planks running horizontally to the tracks to hold the tracks in place). Had the mattress been laid down horizontally, with ends resting on both sides of the track itself, it could have caused a derailment, and the train could have fallen off the trestle. No photos of the site of the incident have been released. Officials are gathering video evidence from the train and from the film crew.

    • Signal Foreman says:

      I guess nobody had RWP training

    • Dave W. says:

      In my humble opinion, and I’m certainly no expert, I don’t believe that any typical bed mattress is going to derail a 200 ton locomotive in any kind of configuration. Hundreds if not thousands of bored kids, hoodlums and anarchists have tried, only to see them fall into the gauge or the pilot knock them harmlessly out of the way.

      • don mule says:

        DaveW, anything that gets in between the wheels of a train and the track is cause for concern. Mattresses are made with wooden and metal parts, and though unlikely, it could happen. Just like a fatal accident on a film set – unlikely, but it can happen.

  10. don mule says:

    There are a number of conflicting reports about this incident. Only a thorough investigation from objective authorities can sort out the how’s and why’s it occurred. Here is a summary of information gleaned from various reporting sources:

    1. The land of the site of the incident is owned by Rayonier (a private company).
    2. CSX has train line(s) running through the property – unsure if their strip of land for the tracks is owned by CSX or is an easement or a right of way.
    3. Multiple tracks approach the trestle. It appears they converge into one track that goes over the river.
    4. Film crew had permission from Rayonier to be on the property, but not necessarily ON the tracks itself.
    5. CSX was informed of the filming activity taking place.
    6. Film crew was informed of two trains that were to be at the site; both trains had arrived and had stopped before the trestle, on alternate tracks.
    7. A third train is the one involved in the incident – a freight train.
    8. The trestle (a bridge for trains) goes over heavily-wooded areas (forests) on both sides of the river. Jumping from a high elevation into a forest would not be an option. No reports have indicated people jumping into the river. It appears the film crew was on the trestle over the forest (nearer to firm land), and not over water.
    8. Per some reports, the debris from the mattress on the tracks when struck by the train knocked the deceased camerawoman from a platform by the trestle onto the way of the oncoming train, which struck her fatally. Sounds like the crew was out of harms way of the train (yet dangerously close), but the exploding mattress caused most of the injuries via shrapnel, in addition to causing the deceased to fall into the path of the train. The director had tried to move the mattress once the oncoming train was recognized, but fell and was able to get out of the way only via the help of another film crew member.

    My opinion: there are two elements of grey area:
    1. Unreported(?) third train coming into the area (CSX has been tight-lipped since this incident).
    2. Crew filming on the actual track without permission, including having a set piece on the track (the mattress). Had the mattress not been there or had been removed, the train might have passed by safely, avoiding the film crew.

    (PS – I am a resident of this area and my summary is based on local reports. I am not affiliated with any of the parties involved. Like everyone else, I am shocked, sickened, and saddened to see such an event occur, especially so close to home. I assume film crews will remember this incident whenever similar scenes are to be shot in the future.)

    • Gordon says:

      Absolutely ridiculous. A mattress may derail a model train, but NO WAY a real one!

      • DougK says:

        Additional facts have been releases pointing to the producing company being guilty of gross negligence. CSX specifically told the company that multiple trains will be coming through the tracks not just 2, and not to film on the track. A permit is required to film on the tracks and they were denied such a permit and warned not to film on it. The production company decided to just ignore this.

        In the end the production company is 100% at fault.

    • Dave W. says:

      My sincere hope is that the individual employed by Open Road Films who gave Sarah Elizabeth Jones the directive to commence work upon an active main line railroad, the directive that caused her death, is sent to prison and that the family of Mrs. Jones sues the Open Roads Films company out of existence.

  11. BMJ says:

    @ Dave > Hard to believe perhaps from others’ viewpoints, but it is true that this particular trestle and access to the trestle was, in fact, open to public access not too many years ago. As I stated before, people – all people, grown-ups, kids, everyone and anyone had access to the trestle. Roughly, ten years ago – give or take a year or two – Rayonier, Inc. posted the property as private and gated off the roadway leading to the trestle.

    @ Kane > I wasn’t disputing who owns the rail systems. Rayonier DOES own the land that you HAVE to access to get to the trestle. The land is posted private and it’s gated at points prior to reaching the trestle. You can get to the trestle only two ways – either by land (Rayonier’s property) or by boat via the river that the trestle runs over.

    This website has a photo of the trestle: http://www.waynetourism.com/doctortown.html

    • Dave W. says:

      @BMJ: Not being familiar at all with Rayonier I guess I’d have to believe that the company very well may have allowed “access” to virtually any part of their property at one time. However, you’re just not going to convince me that any class 1 railroad has EVER allowed public access to track, bridges/trestles, tunnels or any other part of their property or physical plant. That notion flies in the face of the very core of any railroad’s basic safety policy regarding pedestrians since the early 1900’s. Folks may have been able to walk up to that trestle but that sure doesn’t mean that they EVER had permission to be ON it. Railroads don’t even allow their own employees to be on the RoW without first having filled out the proper form and notifying the dispatcher. Ignorance is bliss and many, many happy go lucky folks have been killed because they assumed the good ol’ railroad tracks were public domain.

  12. Alex A says:

    From working in the film/television industry I can almost guarantee you the production asked CSX for permission to film and of course they said no; so the crew took it upon themselves to film there anyway… I hope they prosecute the director, UPM and any other “management” there.

    • BMJ says:

      @Dave > I suppose it would be hard to visualize the setting where this incident occurred without physically being there. Where the trestle is located, there is no physical plant – or there wasn’t the last time I was down there. I don’t know how railroads are all over the U.S., but I have seen, in my lifetime, many times people walking the tracks (physically being on the tracks), whether it be the tracks that run through the center of town as they do in my hometown (note: there have been fatalities with pedestrian vs. train on those very tracks in the center of town, even recently – as I’m sure the case in other towns, too), or a trestle, or a tunnel. I understand what you are thinking (I think) that the rail companies would not “allow access” to their tracks, but frankly, people are on railroad tracks all the time – all the time. Before Rayonier gated off their property – which in this case, the road that takes you to the crossing and the trestle, people went onto that trestle all the time. I’ve been on that trestle as a kid growing up, and even as an adult, several times. I’m not saying it was “okay” by the railroad company(s) that may have “right of way” passage/ownership or whatever the correct term is, just that people get on railroad tracks, walk them, cross them, jump trains, what have you .. all the time. I’m not sure how familiar you are with railroads/tracks/etc… but, I have lived in GA, the midwest, almost in Canada even, and in every place I’ve lived (all small towns like Jesup) people have wandered onto the railroad tracks and trestles. Granted, they probably are not supposed to be on them, but there is no way the railroad companies can monitor every mile (locations) of their tracks and trestles. There are too many all over the U.S. This is an unfortunate and preventable accident, whether access was granted only to enter the area by Rayonier, or by CSX to be on the tracks (which I seriously find hard to believe) .. But, who knows? Whatever the facts of the case are, I’m sure in the end they will come out and the proper action(s) will be taken accordingly. If you could physically see the trestle you would understand more how inconceivable it really is that someone was allowed to be on that trestle specifically, for any reason. However, right now, we simply do not know all the facts of the case. I just thought many of the people who have posted on here – the LA’ers, more so, had no idea of the setting of those tracks and how difficult it would be to even get on them, much less shoot that scene with props, i.e., a mattress. Not impossible. Definitely “hairy” and a risk, with or without a train just because of where it is located. There are so many poisonous snakes and gators on that river, people who aren’t aware of such things, or used to them, or don’t even know to look out for them or what they may sound or look like, are in as much danger as shooting that film on that trestle! Even in the current weather, those things are still out there. It doesn’t have to be summer for them to crawl. (Just an FYI for any future ideas about shooting in the deep south.) Respectfully, BMJ

  13. Kane Howard says:

    The railroad is federal property. You cannot walk on the tracks or railroad bridges; obviously for good reason. The only place the public can cross tracks, are at public crossings (i.e. the ones you drive across or walk across that are clearly marked with signs.) COMMON SENSE. Filming on tracks… wow, new low there, America…the thing behind your eyeballs and between your ears…USE IT!

    • Dave W. says:

      There are numerous federal laws and regulations that apply to railroads but the railroad company itself, CSXT in this case, actually owns the railroad physical plant and right of way.

  14. Lisa Cross says:

    How could anyone film on actual tracks without having tracks closed, notifying ALL that use it and having parties posted well before and well after filming area with sirens or police cars so that time would be had IF the unexpected was coming through? This is NUTS. I would be more livid if relative to anyone that was injured or killed. This was enormous in lack of planning. God help whomever this is about to be pinned on. Absolutely horrific and senseless. So sad to hear this could and did happen.

  15. Wally says:

    Georgia is a ‘right to work’ state with a very poor worker safety record. Just one more reason to NOT shoot ANYTHING in states with no, or very little, protection for workers. She was. U ion member who deserved better thn to be killed by a train because of sloppy production prep….RIP Sarah Elizabeth Jones, you were a well respected camera assistant and loved by many.

    Shame on producers ho cut corners to save a buck. THIS DIDN’T NEED TO HAPPEN.

    • SAG Actor says:

      Georgia does have a poor record of worker safety. Someone almost died on The Walking Dead set last Season. A Hummer ran into a bunch of People,and Rolled over one persons Head.
      Yes, there are a handful of Union People on Set.
      But most of the Crew People are Greenhorns and have been pulled from the Construction Industry.

      • dlerchlv426 says:

        You are grossly misinformed. All the people I work with on film and TV are union members in GA. And the extra that was run over broke his legs and pelvis, his head was not crushed. And an extra was driving the truck not a stuntman.

        GA is a right to work state but I dont know any best boy, foreman, key grip, gaffer, DP, lead that would hire a scab.

        People from all over the country have moved here for the work. We have local 600 folks from NY and LA, electricians for 728 and NY. I moved here from another local as well.

        Also the crew was not at fault here. Blame production. You sound pretty uninformed. Show some respect, a girl died because a production company with above the Lin folks from LA mind you cut corners . as a result a GA local was killed. Saying this would never happen in LA is funny when there have been plenty of deaths in the LA film industry. Spiderman, Con Air, Twiligh zone, xXx, anyone? Plenty of people have been killed in LA on set. It happens, and it is usually not the fault of the technician involved.

  16. You don’t work on an active rail line unless you are in direct contact with rail traffic control and the line is red in both directions. The line has to be closed. Period.

  17. BMJ says:

    I am a native – born and raised – in the town where this incident occurred, Jesup, GA. My heart goes out to all who have been affected by this tragic accident. To help people who are battling out who’s at fault, no less than pointing the finger of blame, I’d like to give you a little bit of background on exactly where this trestle is located. The trestle used to be open to public access years ago, but has since become property of Rayonier, Inc. (a very large pulp mill). Locally, the trestle is known as the Doctortown Trestle because Doctortown is where the logging industry began in this particular town. Doctortown is not a town, per se, but is a part of Wayne County – the county in which Jesup sits. Doctortown is about 6-8 miles outside the city limits of Jesup. It is not an easy task to get near, much less on the trestle. The last time I was back there – and it has been more than a decade – it was gated territory and if I remember correctly, possibly a guard shack nearby. The trestle runs over the Altamaha River. There have been other accidents/fatalities that have occurred either on the trestle, or at the road crossing at the trestle, involving oncoming trains… when it was public access property. This trestle is “in the river” or woods. It is not where anyone would hear or see a train coming, unless you were right there. I have no idea what the laws are about warning whistle-blowing on the part of the railroad conductors, but no one should be traveling on that trestle OR even that crossing because it is private (and posted) property. It would be conceivable that the warning whistle may not be the normal long, 2-3 blows you’d hear at a public crossing. Remember, the crossing is in the woods pretty much.

    This is a very tragic, and I believe, preventable tragedy. I know there is a protocol to gain access to that area and there is NO way to know – at this point – who dropped the ball in protocol. Perhaps all the proper access actions were taken and it falls on an individual somewhere in the line of communications. I think for the dignity of the woman who has lost her life – as well as her family, and the other injured persons, it would be more honorable to allow justice to prevail at its pace and allow the family and friends of the deceased and injured parties to just mourn the loss of life and deal with the situation without everyone’s personal opinions and input, which frankly probably doesn’t mean a thing to any of them at this time.

    Though I have moved away from “Y’allywood” – there are many notable figures who are from that general area. Burt Reynolds was born in Waycross, GA, just 40 minutes away, just to mention one “Hollywood Star”…

    I will raise the white flag on my hometown for being ridiculed and made fun of by those who have made fun of them. In the beginning, as well as the end, we ALL (LA or Y’allywood) came into and will leave this “glamorous” world with our bare asses.

    For Gregg Allman specifically .. I am Peck’s (from Macon, GA.) relative. She is/was my grandmother’s sister.

    May you all find Grace and mercy within your hearts.

    BMJ

    • Kane Howard says:

      You obviously don’t understand. The protocol? Are you serious? There is no protocol! They trespassed federal property! No warning is needed, because no one should have been there to begin with! How hard is this for people to understand… Would you go film in the middle of an active runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport??? I guess planes should have horns to honk to let you know they are coming…

      • BMJ says:

        With all due respect, Kane, the access property is not federally owned; perhaps the rail system, but not the land utilized to get to the trestle. I never said protocol to shoot the film; just protocol to gain access back there, which depending on what your agenda is, can be granted by Rayonier – not the railroad. As well, having been married to an operations manager for a large railroad entity, ALL crossings require a warning of some sort. ALL of them.

    • Dave W. says:

      With all due respect, there are a couple of things I don’t quite understand here. 1)How was a trestle on a railroad mainline EVER open to public access? 2) How is it possible that a trestle on CSX’s mainline is owned by anyone other than CSX?

      • DougK says:

        BMJ You are WRONG. The trestle is owned by CSX not Rayonier, Royonier simply owns the land near the tracks and trestle. The company was denied permission to film on the track, and was denied a permit to film near the track. They were violation the law when they were filming and knew this. Your facts are highly distorted.

  18. James AndrewsI worked says:

    Sad tale…..I worked on a Gregg Allman concert last summer. They were great!

    • BMJ says:

      @DougK > With all due respect (had you read all of my posts – you would see that I clearly pointed out that Rayonier only owned the LAND that you had to access – namely Doctortown Rd. – to get to the trestle, as well, the railroad crossing at the trestle. You either didn’t bother to actually read all of my posts or you misread. Personally, I don’t care .. just pointing out the “facts” .. Respectfully, BMJ

  19. Tracy Facelli says:

    To Craftyguy and SAGactor –
    First, using this tragedy to promote your own interests completely disgusts me.
    Second,set accidents can happen anywhere. To blame this tragedy on the fact that this production was in Georgia is ignorant and short sighted. One of the most tragic on set accidents was in 1983, while filming “Twilight Zone: The Movie”…in California. Vic Morrow and two young children were killed by a helicopter when safety concerns of the pilot were ignored “to get the shot”. John Landis was the director, and some of the producers included Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy. All of them worked in LA.
    I’ve worked in the motion picture industry for over a dozen years. In my experience, it’s not about where people are from or their experience, but just how much value they place on human life.

    • dlerchlv426 says:

      Well said! I’m a GA 479 local in the film industry and most productions that come here are legit. I wouod even argue that there is probably more non union production work in LA right now than in GA. I moved here from my old local 2 years ago and have only worked union jobs. We get plenty of A list shows with a good safety record. Plenty of people work here with years of experience. Now with the incentives it also attract some cheapskate shortcut productions. Funny that almost all of them come from California. You guys can have them! Sarah a dedicated camera technician is dead due to the negligence of a Los Angeles based above the line production team. So please show some respect and do not blame my union brothers and sisters for the negligence of some above the line yahoos who dont understand what the word pre-production means.

  20. sandy says:

    The producers and director (and much of the crew) are from L.A. Experienced, Hollywood producers. Go to imdb.com and look it up.

  21. Alex Therrien says:

    Ok..if you’ve ever been on train tracks before then u know u can hear it coming way before u see it..so my question is what we’re all the pa’s n locations guys doing…how is it they only had a minutes warning…something is super fishy about all this!!!

    • dlerchlv426 says:

      They were on a bridge. They only heard the whistle less than minute before it arrived to their location. If they had PAs a mile in each direction, and the train is going 60mph, that only gives them 1 minutes time to clear the tracks. Not enough time to do so. Stupid and negligence on production, the first AD, the director for wanting to steal the shot.

  22. Jon Salzman says:

    Super sad story for all production people. This happened in Ga., but it was quickly felt all over the movie community, all over the usa.

    The safety of the crew, the primary concern of the producers, was not insured. As many have pointed out, trains dont just pop up out of no where.

    It appears that this was a union shoot.

    If the IATSE president lets this tragic event pass without applying heavy pressure to go after those who may turn out to be criminally responsible for this, then it is time for this lame duck IATSE president to get out of the way forever, or be “unanimously” run out of office forever.

    A crew gets a call sheet and they show up on time and perform their jobs. Most responsible crew members think about safety while performing their craft. The crew could only assume, and tragically in this sense, that the same caution and thought was used by the producers and the 1st assistant director.

    These are the people you go after.

    Criminal negligence.

    Union, non unon, isnt the argument.

  23. Craftyguy says:

    Something like this never would have happened in Los Angeles. There are always fire and safety people on the set.maybe it’s time to come back to your roots,where the infrastructure ,skilled workers,good weather ,and the best talent are. Saving money through incentives isn’t a worth it if you going to lose the money you saved on lawsuits and lives.This tragedy was totally preventable, and a absolute disgrace who ever allowed it to happen.

    • Janet Melody says:

      No problem, Craftyguy. In fact, we prefer that LA keep these LA types at home. For example, the Director/Producer is a graduate of the University of Southern California Film School and usually works LA. This is the 2nd time this production company has come to Georgia. There were problems and injuries the first time and death the 2nd. Please…do keep them in LA. NC, SC and GA prefer not to work with them.

      Otherwise, I find your post rather tasteless. We mourn a friend and colleague because the production company (with the touted LA ties) went the cheap route. And you use production’s bad judgement as a reason film should stay in LA. Shabby.

      As for roots…film started as a viable industry in Fort Lee, NJ. If you can’t keep film in LA maybe you should re-examine what LA has to offer instead of blaming the rest of the country because they are getting the work.

    • Alex Therrien says:

      Plenty of skilled workers on the east coast..bad shit happens out there to!!

  24. Dustin Raiken says:

    While I feel terrible for those involved in this accident, I must say I’m very disappointed in them. Many film producers choose shortlines or tourist lines for filming, and they usually ask for permission to use their property. However, it seems as though these guys just hopped onto a busy CSX mainline, set up a scene on a trestle where the only escape route is down, and started filming on it like they owned the damn place. At least they could have asked CSX for permission to use their rails, but they didn’t, and they paid the price. Railroad property is private property, and not asking CSX for permission meant these fools weren’t only putting themselves at risk, but were trespassing on their property at the same time. I hope these producers realize that a railroad is by no means an instant film set which they can access at any time and anywhere, but a way of life which is off-limits for the average person and a highly dangerous place to access. Even worse, though, is that I feel as though someone is going to sue CSX for this accident. My condolences go out to those involved in this event, and may the producers of this movie learn something about what a railroad truly is.

  25. SAG Actor says:

    I’m not Suprized at All that this Happened Here in “Y’ALLYWOOD”.
    A completely Preventable Tragedy, and Sickens Me to the Core that Prodution was so Cavalier about Safety. I know this Poor Girls Family must be Devastated right now.
    The former Slave State turned Right to Work State will more than likely have more things like
    this happen. Unless the Unions,including SAG, step in,demand, and Force Change to happen.

    • dlerchlv426 says:

      Wow, your poor use of capitalization shows who the ignorant one is. It was a union show. Almost all the movies here are union shows! 2nds in Atlanta will only hire union members. Quit pushing your agenda. This was a LA based production company so your argument is null and void. I’m a proud union member of local 479 and we all mourn the loss of our sister Sarah. Please understand that the film industry is a traveling circus. I’ve moved all over the east coast chasing work. Maybe you should do the same.

    • R A says:

      First off, learn to use proper capitalization and spelling. It will help you hide your ignorance. Secondly, Open Road is a Los Angeles based company so at least get your facts straight. Sad the you would use a tragedy as a stage for yet more race baiting.

    • R Henry says:

      A tragic accident prompts you to rail against an entire state and its residents who wish to allow workers to choose with whom they negotiate employment terms? Perhaps you need to calm down a little, take a deep breath, and evaluate what is really important in life, and death.

  26. Lori Rozman Fenton says:

    my heart breaks. sarah was a lovely vibrant young woman that sparkled when she smiled. everyone loved working with her. she will be greatly missed.

  27. Gino says:

    Where was the safety coordinator, and who had the schedules for the trains? A third train comes out of nowhere? With modern communications available there should have been a production assistant at least one mile down the tracks in both directions with a cell phone to relay information, and there should have been police officers at railroad crossings nearby to let them know what was going on. This is dangerous and the loss of life and injuries is unacceptable. It could have been avoided.

  28. Allen Craig Yount says:

    I’m a Local 492 member Tennessee Mississippi, Was just wondering who was the Safety Coord. on the Set? Sounded like a complicated shot…So Sorry for the tragic loss and Speedy recovery to those who were injured. It can be a Very Dangerous Business were in…God Speed from Local 492…

  29. Teamster says:

    As a Teamster Captain I make sure to communicate the dangers of working on or around rail systems active or inactive to all of my drivers I make it a point to check with locations managers and production to make sure that permission is given by the owners of the rail system and also make sure that several rail road representatives are present on set so that they can make the production aware of any activity on the rail system so that the crew can move all equipment and crew out of harms way. Unfortunately this productions locations dept, producers, directors (1st, 2nd, 2nd 2nd,upm) didn’t take the proper steps to insure the safety of the crew. My condolences to her family and friends.

    • peterblood71 says:

      Yep, when you do it on the cheap be prepared for catastrophic repercussions. Completely avoidable in this day and age. This poor woman crew member paid for their inadequate preparation with her life.

  30. A says:

    My heart is breaking for the crew member who died and her family. I’ve known her since we were kids. RIP beautiful.

  31. Brian says:

    Josh,
    You say they were trespassing and they sheriff’s office say they had permission from Rayonier and CSX and confirmed it. Where did you get your information? Here is a link to mine:

    http://www.wtoc.com/story/24784688/officials-investigate-fatal-wayne-co-train-accident-as-homicide

    • Keefe says:

      Having “permission to film” a section of train tracks and “having permission to physically place a bed, production equipment, actors and crew ON the train tracks without proper safety precautions and/or representatives from the railroad onsite to monitor activity” are two completely different things.

      The production company involved has an established history in this area of brazenly ignoring local rules and regulations, and acting in a cocky and cavalier fashion. In other words: “Getting the footage first and worrying about the consequences later.”

      As more details are revealed, I think folks will sadly see that this horrible tragedy was 100% preventable, and is solely the result of a foolish and greedy attempt to “sneak a shot” they would have been (or perhaps had already been) refused permission from the railroad to attempt at this particular location.

      I concur with others who believe the director and others in charge of this production should be held criminally responsible for the nightmarish death, injury and trauma their unprofessional and unsafe practices have caused.

      • Rudy says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Crew members want to keep their job and are too afraid to say NO to the director/producers who are trying to get their ‘just one money shot’ and could care less about safety or rules which are meant to protect people. Just say NO to the above the line. Speak up!

        So many times I have personally seen the safety of the crew blatantly ignored for the sake of the money shot. Because it is not the lead actor, production carries on and continues without a flinch. It is a sad day.

  32. Josh says:

    The film crew was trespassing on the bridge (its not a public bridge, its owned by CSX as is the rail right-of-way). The trains might have not been expected by the film crew, but they are normal freight trains that travel the route.

    Also, it appears at this time, the film crew made no attempt to seek permission, or even notify, CSX of their desire to film there.

    • Sal says:

      Check this link Josh…maybe before you type:
      http://www.wtoc.com/story/24784688/officials-investigate-fatal-wayne-co-train-accident-as-homicide

      Here’s the last paragraph…”WTOC spoke with the creative director for Meddin and he said that Thursday’s shoot on the trestle was coordinated with CSX Railroad and with Rayioner. The sheriff’s office was also able to confirm that the crew had both companies permission to film. “

      • Kane Howard says:

        Sal, don’t believe it is all I can tell ya. CSX would never give someone permission on the tracks. Never. The only way you get on those tracks is you are either Maintenance of Way, or a train. Not ever would they allow such a thing…

      • Dave W. says:

        “The sheriff’s office was also able to confirm that the crew had both companies permission to film.” Permission to film WHAT and WHERE? Keefe has made the key point here: “Having “permission to film” a section of train tracks and “having permission to physically place a bed, production equipment, actors and crew ON the train tracks without proper safety precautions and/or representatives from the railroad onsite to monitor activity” are two completely different things.” ~~ Granting a film crew/production company permission to film ON or NEAR their main line would have been handled the same way that CSX handles any other contractor needing to work near the ROW or having to foul the gauge. Track time would have been issued to a CSX flagger and that flagger would have had complete control of all traffic and activity within his limits. So far, there’s been no mention of this having occurred. If indeed things had been arranged in that manner (and that would have been the ONLY acceptable manner according to the FRA rules that I’m familiar with) and a train was allowed to run in on them (highly unlikely) then someone at CSX is guilty of negligible homicide or manslaughter.

  33. The first sentence in this article is ridiculous. You make it sound like today’s tragedy is a redundant one. You should have simply said “a camera assistant”. It sounds like two have died.

  34. Phillemena says:

    This is ridiculous that it happened. Yet another reason evolution is a crock – the persons responsible aren’t the ones who suffered the consequences.

  35. Fred Galle says:

    Prayers! Holding breath from names of those involved. OMG

  36. Mark Rimmell says:

    It appears that Productin did not do there homework..So often budgetary considerations seem to over ride evrything..Preparation, Preparation, Preparation …That is the key…It would have taken very little to have checked ,checked and double checked.. The crew are instructed where to go , what to do .The Production office seems to have a lot to answer for..Only time will tell..

  37. John Miller says:

    This horrible incident sounds like the result of guerrilla filmmaking instead of a professional film production. As has been said, you would think that even student filmmakers would have been better prepared for this kind of filming.

    How could this possibly have been shot on an operating rail line? If shooting on that particular trestle was so important, couldn’t the production have contacted CSX and found when the line would have been the least busy? And, make sure that all trains were held until the filming had completed?

    All sympathy and prayers go out to the assistant camerawoman and her family. Very sad.

    • Alex A says:

      That was an “intermodal” train, one of many that pass through there each day, with millions and millions of dollars worth of goods. It was probably a “z train” as well, meaning that it travels at top speeds while other trains yield for it at sidings, to ensure its goods make it on schedule (or they lose A LOT of revenue). CSX wouldn’t stop rail traffic on a mainline for some stupid movie.

  38. R says:

    Did someone not questions the safety of shooting on live train tracks (on a bridge no less), with no emergency escape route or plan? Where where the PA lookouts? What was everyone told at the safety meeting about this kind of situation? Who checked the train schedules hourly?

    It sounds like they saw a train, and scattered into a disorganized mess like kids filming in the street. Completely unacceptable actions on the part of production. No ones life should ever be in danger, no matter what the shot is.

    It is so sad that this crew member lost her life, and others are seriously injured. There is no excuse for it!

  39. JT says:

    I’m very sorry for the loss of this ladies life, it was NEEDLESS and should never have happened to begin with. I’m an engineer for a railroad and I live everyday with the bad decisions people like this make. No one is asking how the train crew is doing? Emotions run high..imagine you are driving down the street at 50 mph with the steering wheel locked straight and the brakes won’t stop you for half a mile and then you see three people in front of you and you know you can not stop!! Now look in their eyes and see that fear of what THEY and YOU know is going to happen. Who ever was in charge of this production should be charged with her death and made an example of. Putting these people in harms way like this is no different than giving them a gun and playing Russian roulette with their lives and the lives of that train crew.

    • Eric Liscom says:

      I know exactly how you feel… In ten years with various railroads I have “hit” 4 cars at grade crossings and had many close calls with others, including pedestrians, tresspassers,etc….The emotions do run high, the look of shock and horror on the persons face….I remember each one very clearly.
      I agree that the person responsible should be held accountable and I have little doubt that they were there illegally, as I can’t see any railroad, much less a class one, giving such access without RR personnel on site and in charge….The film makers probably thought it was too costly to follow the correct procedure and now someone has lost their life due to this poor choice.

      • MrJ says:

        JT…I am a volunteer conductor at a railroad and I agree wholeheartedly with what you call out in regards to the train crew. I too have had a situation where someone was hit by moving equipment and it is not pretty. The scene will play out in your mind ad-nauseum for days as it did with me as the person fell to their side, slid on the sidewalk, then their head hitting the ground, then feeling helpless as you try to get the train stopped and go to investigate. Luckily the person was able to leave the scene alive.

        As for the other and subsequent comments about having production film staff up and down the line acting as lookouts for other trains…this obviously shows that the media industry (movie AND news stations) must routinely trespass on the ROW and get those one-off quickie shots. This alone shows the movie industries failure to follow proper LEGAL ways to use the railroads property – which can be done.

        The other comments indicating that this shoot was cleared by CSX is utter rubbish. We railroaders know too well that if something remotely close to this happening, there would have been special agents, safety officers, the roadmaster or their designee, and a fleet of other crews on-site with the film crew coordinating any movement and then clearing the crew to access the ROW. The railroads don’t just hand out “OK to film” paperwork with a train schedule (yeah right!) and expect nothing to go wrong with the film crews timing. I await the production crews evidence to the contrary in allowing them to access the property.

        My heart goes out to the train crew and to the victim and her family. I have nothing but disgust for the production crew who allowed this to transpire and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    • D says:

      I agree. Someone needs to be held accountable for this unnecessary death.

  40. MovieBeanCounter says:

    Hey CA & GA, a friend to many, a family member and industry professional died here. Yes she was union, she was a #600 pro. So stop guessing that she was an inexperienced kid and that somehow her lack of ‘production city’ experience may have caused this.

    22 years in this business has taught me many things. One is patience. This is a tragic accident that may or may not have been preventable. We simply do not know yet. The story will come out, so please honor her memory and stop the blame, especially when none of us know what happened yet.

    There will be time for that. But not now.

    From what I hear and the faces I saw today, you were a good friend to many and an amazing travel companion…may the road rise wherever your travels now take you.

  41. Unbelievable says:

    So it just HAD to be an operating railroad?

  42. focuspuller says:

    Horrible. So sad. I’m sure production will halt and the studio will refund the rebate for shooting in Georgia.

  43. p. wagner says:

    The fatality was a dear friend. She will be missed by many, she was loved by all who knew her, and she will always be special in our hearts forever. My heart and sympathy go out to her family.

  44. Bruce Bolt says:

    someone drop the ball safety is everyone job this is what happens when you have a inexperience crew

    • Georgia AD says:

      Not the crew, the director, the AD’s, and producers who do not care. Everyone thinks bad things won’t happen to them and cocky producers and a cocky director, well this is what happens. This is real and it does happen to you.

  45. Georgia AD says:

    How could this have happened? I am an AD. How could this 1st AD not have PA’s planted up and down that track, at 1/4 and 1/2 mile with their radios on and watching like a hawk? HOW? Everybody in this business knows you can not 100% relay on train schedules. Heads should roll for this. Hollywood, come down here to Georgia and follow this story before a coverup happens.

    • Alex A says:

      They probably did have “lookouts”, but a train traveling 70mph without the horn blaring (because it’s traveling through the woods with no grade crossings nearby) will sneak up on you… People get hurt when hacks take shortcuts to save money.

    • Bobbie Harley says:

      Exactly! And production should employ those personnel! ANY experienced film crew knows that’s where the responsibility lies! Seriously! Would I assume a key set PA know and execute what my Set Dresser should do? PRODUCTION is responsible for the safety of the crew, that’s part of their JOB, No ifs ands or buts about it.

      • Georgia AD says:

        Bobbie, I think film students leaving film school would have known how to keep this from happening. I don’t believe the stories coming from this production company. Things do not add up. Trains coming from TN heading to Savannah, don’t just appear out of nowhere. I hope they don’t bury this story.

  46. Bobbie Harley says:

    As a production designer for film and television, I find it very hard to believe that the production company of this film went through the proper channels to secure permits and obvious security needed that would have prevented this tragic event and jeopardized the safety of their entire crew. My heart aches for the loss of life and injuries. All film crew is family and we are all mourning.

  47. Peps 44ca says:

    God bless and god be with all brothers and sisters

  48. dar dar says:

    Crew should have known better – shooting on a treacherous railroad trestle. Foolish, sorry to say I’m not surprised.

    • Crew should have known better what??? That is their job idiot! Production is supposed to have that railroad under control and arrangements had to be made with railroad companies for the alloted time the shooting was going to take. Someone screwed up and didn’t do his/her job and the crew paid the price.

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