Valdosta Daily Times

State News

February 22, 2014

Crew hit by train were on track without permission

JESUP, Ga. — A movie crew was working on train tracks without permission from the railroad when a freight train crashed into the production team and its equipment, killing one and injuring seven others, a sheriff’s investigator said Friday.

The Savannah-based crew was shooting footage for “Midnight Rider,” a film based on the life of singer Gregg Allman, when the crash happened Thursday afternoon. Wayne County sheriff’s detectives were working Friday to piece together how and why it happened.

The deadly collision took place at a railroad trestle that crosses the Altamaha River in the rural county about 60 miles southwest of Savannah. The tracks, owned by CSX Railroad, cross private land owned by forest-products company Rayonier, which has a nearby paper mill. Joe Gardner, the lead detective on the case, said the crew had Rayonier’s permission to film on its property next to the train tracks.

“CSX has told me they were aware they were out there, but they did not have permission to be on the train tracks,” Gardner told reporters.

The train struck and killed a woman identified by the sheriff’s department as 27-year-old Sarah Elizabeth Jones of Atlanta. Gardner said he didn’t know what job she performed on the film crew. Seven others were injured, one seriously enough to be taken by helicopter to a Savannah hospital. Further information on their conditions was not immediately available Friday.

Trespassing onto railroad tracks is illegal under Georgia law and punishable as a misdemeanor.

Production of “Midnight Rider,” starring actor William Hurt as the Allman Brothers singer in his later years and All-American rejects vocalist Tyson Ritter as a young Allman, began this month in coastal Georgia. The film is based on Allman’s 2012 memoir, “My Cross to Bear,” with production based at Meddin Studios in Savannah.

The film studio Friday referred calls to a Los Angeles publicist, Nadine Jolson, who did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment but emailed a brief statement.

“All of us on the production team are devastated by the tragic accident that happened today,” the studio’s statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our crew member.”

CSX issued a statement saying the railroad company was “deeply saddened” by the crash and cooperating with investigators. It provided no further details other than to say the train involved was traveling to Savannah from Memphis, Tenn.

A CSX spokeswoman, Kristin Seay, declined to comment further and would not confirm that film crew had no permission from the railroad to be working on the train tracks.

Authorities provided few details about the collision. Gardner said it wasn’t clear if crew members were actually on the trestle bridging the river or just on the tracks at the river’s edge. He said the train smashed some of the crew’s equipment, and it’s possible some of the injuries were caused by flying debris. Among the items found on the tracks was what appeared to be a mattress for a bed, Gardner said.

It also wasn’t clear if the film crew was waiting to film a train or was caught unaware by one approaching, Gardner said.

“That’s a very active train track,” he said. “There’s probably anywhere from up to 10 trains a day that go through on those tracks.”

 

1
Text Only
State News
  • Kingston’s loss means less clout for Ga.

    For two decades, Rep. Jack Kingston was a congressman who routinely crushed his opponents on election night — winning a new term every other year with vote totals between 63 and 77 percent.

    July 28, 2014

  • salmonella 2 copy.jpg Trial nears for suspects in salmonella case

    Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georgia.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 2 injured in western Georgia small plane crash

    Fire officials say two people were hospitalized after small plane crash in western Georgia. 

     

    July 27, 2014

  • Nuclear Construction_Rich(1) copy.jpg Promises of easier nuclear construction fall short

    The U.S. nuclear industry has started building its first new plants in decades using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and money and revive the once promising energy source.
    So far, it’s not working.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Battle of Atlanta_Rich copy.jpg Civil War battle sites have a mobile app

    This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta, one of the key conflicts of the Civil War, and researchers at Emory University’s Center for Digital Scholarship have released a mobile app for the tour.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingston, Perdue make final pitch in Senate race

    U.S. Senate hopefuls Jack Kingston and David Perdue hit every corner of the state in one final scramble before Georgia Republicans will choose one of them to take on Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn this fall in one of the nation’s most significant midterm election matchups.

    July 22, 2014

  • Senate race zeroes in on metro Atlanta, north Ga.

    Neither Republican running in Georgia’s closely watched Senate race has a natural advantage in metro Atlanta, where the state’s most populous area and a ring of northern exurbs are serving as the key battleground ahead of Tuesday’s runoff.

    July 21, 2014

  • Kingston, Perdue: Teamwork begins after runoff

    Businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston have plenty of criticisms for each other as they appeal for votes ahead of Georgia’s Republican Senate primary runoff.

    July 20, 2014

  • Senate-Georgia_Rich copy.jpg Kingston, Perdue offer few details on budget fixes

    Neither Rep. Jack Kingston nor businessman David Perdue has detailed a clear course for changing the nation’s fiscal situation, instead broadly railing against government spending and debt in their campaign for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gavel-courtroom.jpg Republican Senate hopefuls clash in Sunday debate

    Georgia Republican Senate candidates Jack Kingston and David Perdue sharpened their attacks on each other during a heated debate Sunday with just over a week to go before their runoff election.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results