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Hollywood safety pledge marks anniversary of crew fatality

A safety pledge campaign for the US film and television production industries was launched in February to mark the two-year anniversary of a crew member’s death on a feature film shoot.

Initial signatories to the Safety for Sarah End Credits scheme include Warner Bros and the production company for The Vampire Diaries.

The scheme asks producers to sign a letter of intent committing themselves to a working environment that “supports the highest creative expression of the project while respecting the safety of every participant”. The campaign was launched by the parents of Sarah Jones, a camera operator’s assistant, killed by a train while filming in February 2014.

The crew of Midnight Rider, a film about the life of singer Greg Allman, was preparing a scene on a railway bridge in Wayne County, Georgia, when a freight train travelling at 96 kph crossed the bridge, striking and killing Jones.

Several other crew members were injured by parts of a bed laid across the track which blew apart when the train hit it.

Production company Unclaimed Freight Productions had permission from the landowner to film on the land but none from the railway operator CSX to go on to the bridge over the Altamaha River.

Joyce Gilliard, a hairstylist on the shoot whose arm was torn off in the accident, told the Hollywood Reporter newspaper the crew members working on the narrow bridge were warned they would have only one minute to clear the tracks if a train came.

Director Randall Miller pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass and received a 10-year prison sentence.

The accident is widely credited as refocusing US film producers’ minds on their duty of care to workers on set.

Midnight Rider, which was due to star William Hurt, has not been released.


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