A horrific accident happened on the first day of "Midnight Rider" filming Thursday, February 20 in Wayne County, Ga. One crew member working for the Gregg Allman biopic was killed and seven others were injured when a train crashed into the set while they were shooting a dream sequence on the railroad.
27-year-old Sarah Elizabeth Jones, a second camera assistant, was identified as the victim killed in the accident. According to Variety, director Randall Miller himself fell on the tracks but he was pulled to safety by a photographer. Others who were injured were treated at hospital.
"All of us on the production team are devastated by the tragic accident that happened today," a representative for the movie production says in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our crew member."
The tracks where the accident took place are operated by CSX, while the land around it is owned by timber giant Rayonier. Russell Schweiss, a rep for Rayonier, told Los Angeles Times the company granted the crew permission to shoot the film on the property for one day. He said the crew had separate discussion with CSX about the bridge and tracks.
Rumor has it, the movie's crew was provided with a train schedule by CSX and moved on to the track above Altamaha River after two expected trains passed through the area. They were reportedly told that if there's any additionally train, they'd hear a whistle about a minute before it reached the bridge. A third train did come, but they didn't have enough time to step away safely.
The train was unable to stop and hit the bed placed on the track for the filming. One large piece of debris hit Jones, knocking her onto the tracks. "CSX is deeply saddened by the tragedy on a CSX rail bridge in Doctortown, Ga., and continues to cooperate fully with authorities," said CSX's spokeswoman Kristin Seay.
Joe Gardner, the detective investigating the case, said, "CSX has told me they were aware they were out there, but they did not have permission to be on the train tracks." Authorities are now collecting videos and copies of the correspondence between CSX and the filmmakers to determine who might be at fault in the fatal accident.
In the wake of the tragedy, Eliza Dushku, one of the stars in the film, tweeted, "Devastated by the news of the tragedy on our @AllmanBiopic yesterday. Prayers to the crew/families & spirt/soul of the life that was lost."
Open Road, the studio behind the biopic, refused to comment on how the accident might affect the movie's future. Gregg Allman serves as a producer, William Hurt is cast to play the Allman Brothers member, and The All-American Rejects rocker Tyson Ritter is tapped as the musician in his younger years.