An administrative law judge has upheld an OSHA fine against a film company in connection with the death of camera assistant during a location shoot for the film Midnight Rider in 2014.
The willful citation was issued for the company’s failure to provide safety measures to protect employees from moving trains. The serious citation was for exposing workers to fall hazards while working on a train trestle that wasn’t equipped with safety guardrails or other fall protection.
Sarah Jones, 27, was killed while trying to escape from an oncoming freight train on Feb. 20, 2014, in Georgia. Eight other film crew members were injured.
“Film Allman’s management blatantly disregarded their obligation to ensure the safety of their crew and cast,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator for the Southeast. “They were fully aware that the railroad tracks were live, and that they did not have permission to film there.”
Film Allman asked the owner of the tracks, CSX, multiple times for permission to film there. CSX told the film company it did not have its approval.
Director Randall Miller, supervising crew unit production manager Jay Sedrish, first assistant director Hillary Schwartz pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing in the death of Jones. Miller is serving a two-year prison sentence followed by eight years on probation. Sedrish and Schwartz were released on 10 years of probation.
In its investigation into the death, the National Transportation Safety Board interviewed location manager Charles Baxter who said he told Miller and Schwartz that CSX had denied permission to film on railroad property. Baxter told the NTSB that Miller told them filming would proceed on the property. Baxter then refused to participate in the shoot. No one else on the film crew was told about the CSX denial to use its property.