Video Shows Train Involved in Death of a Midnight Rider' Crewmember

Act 2: After the accident, investigators sought to figure out who failed to protect the film crew.
7:29 | 03/21/15

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Video Shows Train Involved in Death of a Midnight Rider' Crewmember
Reporter: Video obtained today by ABC news captures the terror on the trestle during the shooting of the film "Midnight rider." Actor William hurt lies on a hospital bed until a yell that a train is coming. Suddenly, cast and crew move quickly to get off the trestle and to move the bed as the train barrels towards them. A cameraman, hanging onto a girder, shooting off the bridge as part of the bed's railing is thrown off and the train roars across, its shadow playing on the trees below. Then, with the train stopped on the trestle, so little room to squeeze past, images of director Randall miller and other stunned crew members just beginning to assess the nightmarish scene in front of them. At first, it was like a quiet, like people were in shock. I remember hearing somebody say, "Oh, my gosh, she's dead." Reporter: The horrifying news that 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones had been killed by a train on the set of the film "Midnight rider" reached her good friends on "The vampire diaries" just a few hours after it happened. And I got the call and we sat in the car, going to set and it was just pure shock. She just left too soon, she, she -- she would have been -- yeah, it was too soon. I was angry, really angry. Reporter: Immediately after the accident, investigators sought to figure out who had failed to protect the "Midnight rider" crew. Police questioning producer jay sedrish about shooting on active train tracks. Of course, our question was, "Did you have permission?" We got that, "Well, it's complicated," answer. Reporter: Gregg Allman's memoir began with a scene on a bridge but never mentioned railroad tracks. That was Randall miller's addition in the screenplay that he wrote. And in this clip, he reads aloud. Exterior. Train track. His hospital bed is in the middle of a train track. Reporter: From the start, csx was adamant that "Midnight rider" would not be allowed to shoot on any tracks that it owned. This January 27th, 2014, email stating, "Csx does not permit filming on our property." Later, at miller's behest, the "Midnight rider" production would specifically seek to shoot here. And in this email, sent to location manager charley Baxter on the morning of the shoot, a railroad representative again refuses to grant the film permission to shoot on its tracks. To me, those emails were extremely clear that they did not have permission to be on the tracks. Reporter: And yet, it was there that cast and crew assembled on the afternoon of February 20th without Baxter in attendance, as he noted in a deposition. Randy knew I wasn't going to go if we didn't have permission. How do you know that? Because he told me. He told you what? That they were going to film by the trestle whether they had permission from csx or not. Reporter: They began filming by the trestle and then, at miller's direction, on it. Miller's attorney, ed Garland, asserts that his client had been told the tracks posed no risk. Randy miller had no perception of danger and was relying on his team that had never failed him that he was in a safe place. He'd been told there were just two trains and those had gone. Reporter: But in fact, the "Midnight rider" production had no way of knowing when a train might be coming, as railroad safety expert and film consultant art miller notes. There is no freight train schedule I can rely on to make sure there'll be no train on my track. It's a day to day thing. There's not such a thing as a freight train schedule. That approximates what, say, a major airline may publish. Reporter: Jeff Harris is the attorney who's filed a lawsuit on behalf of Sarah Jones' parents. I think they said, well, you know, we don't have actual permission but ultimately we're just going to try to steal this shot. Reporter: If so, it would apparently not be the first time Randall miller had stolen a shot. Take this subway scene from his 2013 movie "Cbgb," a scene he brought up in this panel discussion. You are not allowed to shoot in New York subways. You know that. You're not allowed to. There were absolutely no rules against what he did. And all he did was just take a camera without a bunch of lights and film some small shots. Reporter: The mta in New York sees things differently, though, with multiple requirements for any shooting in the subway. On "Midnight rider," the consequences of pushing the limits would prove deadly. They thought they could make up their own rules. They pushed it too far. Reporter: How does that make you feel? That they thought they could make up their own rules? The audacity to put someone else's life in, in such danger. They wanted to get the shot so, whatever it took to get the shot is what they did. The entire crew was put in a situation where we all had to basically run for our lives. Reporter: It's true, as shown by this startling evidence taken by a camera mounted inside csx q12519. It shows the "Midnight rider" crew racing off the bridge, as the train that would need a mile of track to stop, rapidly approaches the bed that's been placed across the rails. Look again and listen as the dramatic scene unfolds. 26 seconds before impact, the engineer starts to blare the horn continuously. Members of the cast and crew flee to safety. Three seconds before impact, it's too late to get the bed off the tracks. Actors William hurt and Wyatt Russell along with two crew members scramble to make it off the trestle. One second before impact, people cover their ears, clinging to the bridge for their lives. On impact, the bed becomes a deadly weapon. The train hits the bed, and the bed flies up, and apparently a portion of the hospital bed strikes Sarah and pushes her into the train. Reporter: Hair stylist Joyce Gilliard suffered a compound fracture of her left arm. She's had to have a plate put in and is also suing the producers, the railroad company and others. It's not just my arm that was hurt. I suffered such a traumatic experience seeing my co-worker, friend, lose her life because of someone else's negligence. Reporter: Up next -- in the hot seat in court and on video, the man at the center of the Sarah Jones tragedy. Producer/director Randall miller confronted with different questions about just what happened that day and giving the same answer three times. Unfortunately, that's not my job. Do you know where anybody was

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"7:29","description":"Act 2: After the accident, investigators sought to figure out who failed to protect the film crew.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/2020","id":"29804691","title":"Video Shows Train Involved in Death of a Midnight Rider' Crewmember ","url":"/2020/video/video-shows-train-involved-death-midnight-rider-crewmember-29804691"}