The director of the Gregg Allman biopic, “Midnight Rider,” and the film’s executive producer, were two of three people indicted on involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass charges in connection with the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones, who was killed in February when a freight train ran her over during filming in Georgia.
“Midnight Rider” director Randall Miller, executive producer Jay Sedrish and Jody Savin, Miller’s wife and business partner, were indicted by a grand jury on involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass charges, Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson said in a statement Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Involuntary manslaughter carries a potential prison sentence of 10 years, according to Georgia law. Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor and carries a year's jail sentence.
Although the makers of “Midnight Rider” had permission to shoot in the area surrounding the train trestle over the Altamaha River in Wayne County, near Savannah, the crew didn’t have a permit to shoot on the tracks, according to investigators with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.
Jones, a 27-year-old camera assistant who was also on the crew of the CW show "The Vampire Diaries," was killed Feb. 20 when a CSX train rolled through; six others on the “Midnight Rider” crew were injured in the incident.
Some of the crew said they felt anxious about shooting on the tracks.
“As soon as I got to the location, I started to feel funny,” Joyce Gilliard, a “Midnight Rider” hairstylist, said shortly after the accident, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “It didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel safe there.”
She claimed someone on the set said the crew would only have 60 seconds to clear the tracks if a train approached during filming, and that she and others were so nervous that they prayed before shooting began.
“Everybody on the crew was tripping over that,” Gilliard said. “A minute? Are you serious?”
The criminal charges against Miller, Sedrish and Savin follow civil suits filed by victims of the incident. During a May court appearance for one of the suits, Miller claimed he didn’t know the crew was in danger, the AP reported.
“I did not know it was a live train trestle,” he said.
Jones’ death was felt across Hollywood, with a campaign called “Slates for Sarah” started in her name, in which film and television crews shared photos of film slates that honored Jones by affixing her name to the clappers.