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The producers who tried to make Midnight Rider, a biopic based on the life of the Allman Brothers Band’s Gregg Allman, have been cited by the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for safety violations. These violations led to the February death of camera assistant Sarah Jones. Eight other crew members were injured.
Midnight Rider was being filmed in Georgia by train tracks when the accident occurred. The fallout included new questions about crew safety on movie productions and the movie falling apart. Oscar winner William Hurt pulled out of the project and was injured himself. The producers are also facing criminal charges.
The Associated Press reports that OSHA cited Film Allman LLC, the company created in 2013 to make the movie, for two safety violations, totaling $74,000 in fines. The agency said the company put its crew willfully in danger when it decided to film by live train tracks.
“Employers are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect workers’ health and safety, and the entertainment industry is no exception,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in a statement, notes Entertainment Weekly. “It is unacceptable that Film Allman LLC knowingly exposed their crew to moving trains while filming on a live track and railroad trestle.”
Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s Regional Administrator for the Southeast, said that the company’s failure to put together a safety plan was directly responsible for Jones’ death and the injuries others suffered.
Last month, director Randall Miller and producer Jody Savin pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing in Wayne County, Georgia. Producer Jay Sedrish is facing the same charges. At the time, they released a statement insisting that Jones’ death was not a crime, but an accident.
“This was a horrible tragedy and a horrific accident,” the filmmakers claimed.
Their attorney did not comment on OSHA’s findings.
image of Randall Miller courtesy of Peter West/ACE/INFphoto.com