Allman Film Company Cited by OSHA in Georgia Train Crash

By RUSS BYNUM | August 18, 2014

A production company formed to make a biographical film about singer Greg Allman was cited by federal regulators Thursday for workplace safety violations stemming from a train crash in rural Georgia that killed a camera assistant and injured six others.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed $74,900 in fines against Film Allman LLC, a company incorporated in 2013 to make the movie “Midnight Rider.” The company was cited for two safety violations saying it willfully put workers in danger of being struck by a live train and put them at risk of falling off a railroad bridge where they were shooting a scene.

Filming had just begun on “Midnight Rider” when a freight train plowed into the crew Feb. 20 on a railroad trestle spanning the Altamaha River in rural Wayne County southwest of Savannah. The collision killed 27-year-old Sarah Jones. Investigators say fellow crew members were injured either by the train itself or flying shrapnel from a bed that had been placed across the tracks as a movie prop.

“It is unacceptable that Film Allman LLC knowingly exposed their crew to moving trains while filming on a live track and railroad trestle,” David Michaels, the assistant labor secretary who heads OSHA, said in a statement.

The citations don’t name any individual officers associated with Film Allman LLC. The company’s incorporation papers list the same Pasadena, California, address as Unclaimed Freight Productions, which is owned by “Midnight Rider” director Randall Miller and his wife, Jody Savin. Their attorney, Don Samuel, declined to comment.

Film Allman has 15 business days to contest OSHA’s findings and proposed penalty.

On July 3, a grand jury indicted Miller, Savin and executive producer Jay Sedrish on charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing in connection with the crash. Sheriff’s investigators say the filmmakers took their crew onto the railroad bridge despite being denied permission to film there by CSX railroad. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty.

In a statement released through their attorney July 17, Miller and Savin said the crash and Jones’ death “will haunt us forever” but they insisted they had committed no crimes.

“We would never knowingly or intentionally put anybody’s safety at risk,” Miller and Savin’s statement said. “This was a horrible tragedy and a horrific accident.”

Production on “Midnight Rider” was halted after the crash. Allman filed a civil lawsuit against Miller and Savin seeking to prevent them from restarting the project. They settled out of court without disclosing terms.

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