The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 07/3/2014 10:09 AM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 07/3/2014 1:38 PM
SAVANNAH, Ga. - The director of a movie about singer Gregg Allman and two other executives on the project were indicted Thursday on felony charges stemming from a fatal crash in which a freight train plowed into the film's crew in southeast Georgia.
A grand jury in rural Wayne County returned charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing against "Midnight Rider" director Randall Miller as well as his wife and business partner, Jody Savin, and the film's executive producer, Jay Sedrish.
If convicted, the filmmakers each could face up to 11 years in prison for the Feb. 20 death of Sarah Jones. The 27-year-old camera assistant from Atlanta was killed and six other crew members were struck by a train while shooting footage on a railroad bridge spanning the Altamaha River southwest of Savannah. Authorities say the train was travelling at 55 mph when it crashed into the crew and a bed that had been placed on the tracks as a movie prop.
Jones' parents, who have filed a civil lawsuit against the three indicted filmmakers and others, stopped short of praising the decision to seek a criminal prosecution.
"Elizabeth and I are comfortable that the authorities were both careful and meticulous in investigating and bringing charges related to the incident that took our daughter's life," Richard Jones, the young woman's father, said in a statement. "We must allow the criminal justice process to proceed unhindered. Our mission remains the same: to ensure safety on all film sets."
Wayne County sheriff's investigators have said filmmakers had permission to be on property surrounding the tracks from the landowner, forest-products company Rayonier, but lacked permission from CSX Railroad to be filming on the actual train tracks.
The indictment charges Miller, Savin and Sedrish with unintentionally causing Jones' death by trespassing onto the railroad bridge. The filmmakers went onto the train trestle even after CSX denied them access, the indictment says.
Donnie Dixon, an attorney for Miller and Savin, said Thursday that he had no comment on the charges. It was not immediately known whether Sedrish had an attorney.
Three civil lawsuits, including the one by Jones' parents, related to the train crash are pending. Miller bristled at the suggestion that he was cavalier about his crew's safety when he took the witness stand during a court appearance in May. He said his assistants were in charge of securing location permits, and that crew members were along the track to look out for trains during filming.
"I did not know it was a live train trestle," Miller said. "We were told there were two trains from Rayonier coming through, and no more trains that day."
Involuntary manslaughter is a felony carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison under Georgia law. Criminal trespass is a misdemeanour punishable by no more than a year in prison.
None of the accused filmmakers, who live in California, have been arrested. They will likely be allowed to travel to Georgia and turn themselves in at a later date, said Joe Gardner, the lead sheriff's investigator in the case.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Report shows government failure: First Nation
Accused killer tries to plead guilty again
Sentencing in child-abduction trial could be broadcast
Greaves returning to Bombers lineup
Fringe candidates get attention they deserve
Crash kills Flin Flon man
Fighting in Ukraine prompts residents to flee
Fixation with constant suburban growth slammed
US Court: Virginia marriage is for all lovers
UN chief reinforces call for Gaza cease-fire
OurWinnipeg planning report to be followed, says mayoral candidate
Bank of Cda makes molehill from mountain
Bail hearing waived in 2012 Quebec election shooting
Build-first strategy bearing fruit
New weather stations to help flood forecasters and farmers
Toronto man faces child porn charges
Finance memo flags Bitcoin crime potential
Suspect dead, 2 marshals and cop wounded in NYC
Record crowd flocks to fringe
Gloves off in hockey player fight lawsuit
Growing movement to treat PTSD in responders
England cricketer Moeen in Gaza protest
Israeli PM warns of prolonged campaign in Gaza war
Key controversies in new bank notes
Swimmer Lacroix golden at Commonwealth Games
The Situation agrees to anger management classes
Canada's Frizell wins gold in hammer throw
SC mom's arrest sparks child care debate
Preview of Folklorama at News Café today
Astronaut landing at the Concert Hall in December
House says US airlines can advertise pre-tax fares
FAA proposes to fine Southwest Airlines $12M
New fears about Ebola spread after plane scare
911 call reveals unusual home intruder - a snake
Sunny, warm week in the forecast
Man dies in suspicious downtown highrise fire
Online post eggs on anti-Ford actions: police
Sailors to navigate dirty water in 1st Rio test
Cops: 'Spider-Man' slugged officer in Times Square