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Film director Randall Miller today pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass for his involvement in the tragedy on the set of Midnight Rider, during which crew member Sarah Jones was killed.
In exchange for accepting this deal, CBS News reports that prosecutors will not seek additional charges against Miller’s wife and business partner, Jody Savin. Miller, however, will spend "two years in the county jail and another eight on probation" after paying a $20,000 fine, according to reports.
This is a monumental deal, as Deadline notes this is the first time that a film director is going to jail for an on-set death. Sarah Jones was one of several crew members involved with a tragic accident that occurred while trying to shoot a scene from a Gregg Allman biopic. The 27-year-old camera assistant was struck by a train, which had arrived on the tracks unexpectedly, and surprised the crew… which had been trespassing at the time of the shoot.
Today’s verdict brought some closure to Sarah Jones’ family, who released the following statement:
No one won anything today. It’s a great deal of loss all around. We are, as much as I can use the word, satisfied with what came of the case. … The movie and TV industry [needs] to examine themselves, examine the myth of the bubble of cinematic immunity that they think they may have. It doesn’t exist.
Following Sarah Jones’ death, the film industry used the incident as a rally cry for increased measures to ensure on-set safety. You might recall that, in 2014, Oscar attendees wore black ribbons as part of a Ribbons For Sarah commemoration. It was part of an extended Slates For Sarah campaign to help raise awareness for this increasing problem on film sets around the globe.
Long before today’s sentencing, the Gregg Allman biopic had been shelved. The famed songwriter, himself, filed a lawsuit claiming that the production company lost the rights to his story after failing to deliver on two points of their stated contract. William Hurt, who had been cast as an older version of Gregg Allman in the biopic, walked away from the movie nearly a year ago, and while there were rumors that his part would be recast, it seems like Midnight Rider will no longer come to pass.