SAVANNAH. Ga. (CN) – A jury has awarded the family of a crew member killed during the filming of a Gregg Allman biopic in 2014 $3.9 million in damages.
Sarah Jones, an experienced film crew member and graduate of the College of Charleston was killed after being struck by a freight train while working on a scene for “Midnight Rider.”
The crash occurred on a Georgia railroad trellis spanning the Altamaha River where the crew was filming the actor William Hurt in a hospital bed placed on the tracks.
CSX Transportation, the owner of the tracks, has maintained that it had denied the production access to its property, but the crew turned up nevertheless.
As the crew prepared to shoot a scene a freight train came through traveling at about 53 miles per hour.
The train crashed into the bed and struck and killed Jones. Six other people on the set were injured by flying debris.
Jones’ family sued CSX, claiming two of its trains had passed through the area within an hour of the fatal incident, and should have reported the presence of the film crew to the company’s dispatchers.
No warning was issued and Jones was killed as a result, the family said.
The railroad’s attorneys argued that there is no evidence that CSX failed to follow any of its internal safety policies and that the full blame for what happened rested on the filmmakers.
The film was never completed. Its director, Randall Miller, spent a year in jail after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing in connection with Jones’ death.
Jones’ family sued Miller and several other defendants connected to the film, all of whom settled their cases, and CSX Transportation, which did not.
On Monday the jury found that the total value of Jones’ life and her pain and suffering was $11.2 million, and that CSX bore 35 percent responsibility for her death, meaning it is expected to pay $3.9 million.
“This trial disclosed a number of exceptionally poor judgments and ignored opportunities by CSX Transportation to prevent this tragedy,” Jones’ parents, Richard and Elizabeth Jones, said in a written statement.
CSX said in a statement of its own that it is “deeply sympathetic to the terrible loss suffered” by the family,” but “respectfully disagrees with the conclusions reached by the jury” and plans to appeal.