A different verdict has been issued in the death of Sarah Jones. The 27-year-old crew member of Vampire Diaries was tragically killed in a train accident in February. She was a camera assistant on set for the first day of production for Midnight Rider. A dream sequence was being shot on railroad tracks and two trains were passing through. The crew had under a minute to run to safety when a third train came by surprise. She didn’t have enough time to escape and was struck by it. Other members were injured and left frightened by the incident.
Now, a grand jury has charged director Randall Miller and producers Jay Sedrish and Jody Savin with involuntary manslaughter. It is a serious offense, and if they are found guilty, that can mean up to 10 years in prison. Jones’ parents are supportive of the verdict; they filed a civil lawsuit against them in May.
Midnight Rider is an independent biopic film based on the autobiography of rock musician Gregg Allman. Production has been halted due to the tragedy. The scene was shot on an old bridge in Georgia, and some crew members were nervous about working on a live track. Their nervous energy was right. A train appeared, traveling at 55 mph, headed straight toward them. Crew members ran for their lives, leaving expensive film equipment. Jones didn’t make it in time.
Her death has left grief and sorrow in the entertainment industry, along with concerns over safety standards on films. Many have mourned her death. In addition to the verdict of involuntary manslaughter, campaigns have sprung up to promote better safety on sets. The suit against the director and producers is pending; it is a tragedy for all involved. William Hurt, who was to portray Allman, has quit the film.