February 20th will mark the first anniversary of Sarah Jones’ death. A crew member on the set of Midnight Rider, Jones was killed by an oncoming freight train while preparing for a scene on a narrow train trestle. The film is now suspended and set to face a court trial beginning March 9th.
In August of last year, OSHA slapped the production company with a fine of $74,900 for violating safety protocols. Among the two citations, one was listed as “serious” and other as “willful.”
“It is unacceptable that Film Allman LLC knowingly exposed their crew to moving trains while filming on a live track and railroad trestle,” asserted Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA.
Deadline.com believes that the filmmakers would be convicted on charges of manslaughter, a verdict that, if given, would be the first since film-related deaths started in 1914. Director, Randall Miller, producers, Jody Savin and Jay Sedrish, and first assistant director Hillary Schwartz are facing criminal charges for criminal trespass and involuntary manslaughter in the case.
From 1914 to 2014, more than 80 deaths and 52 fatal accidents have been recorded while filming in the U.S. However, only two resulted in indictments, and no one has faced convictions.
Previously, we reported on how the tragic death of 27-year-old Jones jolted Hollywood and inspired a call for increased safety on film sets. Jones was also honored during the Oscars with a special callout box on the bottom of the screen after the In Memoriam tribute.
In the fast-paced film industry, safety is often overlooked due to low budgets and tight deadlines. Film crews are always hesitant to speak up against the unsafe working conditions and long working hours for fear of losing their jobs. Jones’ friends and family members have been working to change this attitude toward safety.
At the Sundance Film Festival, Jones’ parents, Richard and Elizabeth Jones, introduced a “Safety for Sarah” PSA that urged viewers to prioritize safety in the film industry. “If you see something say something,” said actress Gina Rodriguez. “If you feel unsafe, speak up,” averred actor Paul Dano.
The app offers safety hotlines for users to report unsafe working conditions. It also allows users to enter time card information, which could help fight against unsafe and long hours. Users can also send in photographic evidence of safety and time card violations to the app, which will then forward submissions to union and industry organizations who can track complaints. The app is available on iOS and Android for free.