Safety citations upheld in 2014 death of S.C. film worker

Police and other first responders are shown at the railroad tracks where Sarah Jones was killed while working on the movie “Midnight Rider” in early 2014.

A judge this week upheld federal safety citations against a film production company for its role in the death of a former College of Charleston student.

Camera assistant and West Columbia native Sarah Jones, 27, was killed Feb. 20, 2014, while trying to escape an oncoming freight train in rural southeast Georgia during the filming of “Midnight Rider.”

Eight other workers were injured.

The train was traveling 55 mph when it plowed into the director’s crew on a railroad bridge.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Film Allman LLC in August for one willful and one serious safety violation for exposing employees to struck-by and fall hazards.

Judge Sharon D. Calhoun of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upheld those citations this week, OSHA said Wednesday.

“Film Allman’s management blatantly disregarded their obligation to ensure the safety of their crew and cast,” Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator for the Southeast, said in a statement. “They were fully aware that the railroad tracks were live, and that they did not have permission to film there.”

He said Jones’ death “is particularly disheartening because it was entirely preventable.”

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Randall Miller, the director of the film based on the life of musician Gregg Allman, pleaded guilty earlier this year to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing charges.

He was sentenced to two years in a county jail and another eight on probation. He also was assessed a $20,000 fine.

In exchange, prosecutors dropped charges against Miller’s wife and business partner.