Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old camera assistant, was killed and eight other workers were injured while trying to avoid an oncoming freight train during the filming of a scene on February 20, 2014 for the movie “Midnight Rider”. The accident occurred on the Doctortown train trestle in Georgia that spans the Altamaha River near Jesup. While the crew was filming, a CSX Corp. train traveling on the tracks was observed heading towards them. Crew members started leaving the tracks, trying to remove set pieces and get off the trestle. However, they were unable to outrun the approaching train. The train ultimately struck a hospital bed being used as a set piece, sending debris at Jones and the other workers. The film, a biopic based on the life of musician Greg Allman began shooting the picture in Georgia on the day of the accident.
On August 14, 2014, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the production for one willful and one serious safety violation. Per OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor, Dr. David Michaels, “It is unacceptable that Film Allman LLC knowingly exposed their crew to moving trains while filming on a live track and railroad trestle” and that “employers are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect workers’ health and safety, and the entertainment industry is no exception.”
OSHA went on to state that the production company’s failure to develop a safety plan to prevent such hazards, including obtaining permission from the rail owner to use the tracks for filming, led to the death of one crew member and injuries to eight other employees.
The movie production company has 15 business days from the date of receipt of OSHA’s citations and proposed penalties to comply or request a conference with OSHA.