Shocking New 'Midnight Rider' Video Shows Train Impact

Cast and crew members can be seen scrambling to get off the tracks.

March 11, 2015, 12:58 PM

— -- Members of the doomed “Midnight Rider” cast and crew seem to barely have any time to react to a freight train barreling towards them in a shocking new video obtained by ABC News.

In the video, shot by one of the cameramen on the Georgia set and later recovered by crash investigators, “Midnight Rider” crew members, as well as actor Wyatt Russell, can be seen struggling to get off the tracks, some try to move a hospital bed and other props, as a train approaches, its sharp whistle growing louder and louder. Within seconds, the train is upon them, and the video goes sideways, then dark.

ABC News has stopped the video before the impact occurs in the version that plays above.

The collision, which killed 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones and injured six others, occurred on Feb. 20, 2014. The film was supposed to be based on the life of rock star Gregg Allman, played by Academy Award-winning actor William Hurt, but since the accident, Allman has sued to end production permanently.

On that day, members of “Midnight Rider” cast and crew were filming at an active train trestle over the Altamaha River outside of Doctortown, Georgia. With the crew was a metal-framed hospital bed, a prop for filming a dream sequence. The scene they were filming was only supposed to be a pre-production shoot, according to the production schedule obtained by "20/20."

There were no railroad officials or medical help present on set, multiple witnesses told "20/20," nor was the film's location manager, Charley Baxter. He hadn't been able to obtain permission from the railroad to film on the trestle bridge. Baxter emailed the railroad's refusal to producers just before 11 a.m. that day.

The owner of the land adjacent to the bridge had allegedly given the production crew permission to be next to the tracks and had also reportedly told them that only two trains would use the track that day.

Moments after the crew was in position and filming began, a CSX train Q12519 with two locomotives and 37 freight cars came barreling down the track at an estimated 57 miles per hour, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report on its website.

"I don't know who yelled anything. All I know, I heard and I saw the train. And you just immediately started running," Joyce Gilliard, who worked as a hair stylist on set, told ABC News' "20/20" in an October interview.

The cast and crew had to run along a narrow pathway toward the oncoming train to save their lives, Gilliard said. She remembered seeing Miller and another crew member trying to yank the hospital bed off the tracks. When she realized she couldn't get off the bridge fast enough, Gilliard said she held onto a girder.

"The pressure from the wind from the train was so strong that, holding onto the girder, I wasn't able to. It pulled me off," she said.

The train struck the hospital bed, then smashed into Gilliard's left arm. Iron shrapnel flew everywhere. The train's impact snapped a bone in Gilliard's left arm.

The film’s director, Randall Miller, and three other members of the "Midnight Rider" team, including Miller's wife, producer Jody Savin, were charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing.

Miller pleaded guilty Monday to charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing and was sentenced to two years in prison -- a rare case of a Hollywood filmmaker being held responsible for a death on set.

As part of the plea deal for Miller, charges against Savin were dropped. The movie's executive producer, Jay Sedrish, pleaded guilty and got 10 years probation.

Elizabeth and Richard Jones, the parents of Sarah Jones, announced in November they reached a settlement with several defendants in the wrongful death suit they filed against the film’s producers and corporations who own the railroad tracks where the accident took place.

In honor of their daughter, Elizabeth and Richard Jones are also trying to bring awareness to safer film sets with their website, Safety for Sarah.

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