10 Horrific Deaths That Happened While Filming a Movie


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Sarah Jones
Camera assistant Sarah Jones' parents Richard and Elizabeth Jones receive a plaque accepting Sarah as an honorary member of the Society of Camera Operators on March 8, 2014. Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

If Brandon Lee died from tragic incompetence, the death of Sarah Jones was a criminal affair. Jones was a 27-year-old camera assistant working on "Midnight Rider," a biopic of the musician Gregg Allman. On the morning of Feb. 20, 2014, the crew was setting up a scene on a railroad bridge that spanned a river in rural Georgia. The main prop, a bed frame and mattress, was set on the tracks.

The crew had been assured that only two trains used that bridge, and both had already passed. When an unexpected third train loomed into view, the crew scrambled for safety. Jones and some others made it to the narrow walkway that bordered the tracks, clinging to the girders that rose up outside it [source: Johnson].

In their haste to escape, the bed was left behind. The train hit at around 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour, sending metal bars flying. By the time the train had passed, six crew members were seriously injured. Jones lay dead on the tracks, killed after being struck by either the mangled metal frame or the train itself [source: Johnson].

Later investigations would suggest that no one had been given permission to use the bridge, that the director was accustomed to flouting laws and common-sense precautions, and the producers had been less than honest about the dangers the crew faced [source: Yamato].

The case against the producers went to trial one year later. In exchange for guilty pleas, most of the defendants received lighter sentences, primarily fines and probation; director Randall Miller received a two-year sentence [source: Yamato].

Author's Note: 10 Horrific Deaths That Happened While Filming a Movie

I'm not generally drawn to the morbid, but researching this article fascinated me. With death, as with movies, it's not always the cut-and-dried facts that interest us, but the stories surrounding them. If the stories are compelling, even if only by their bizarre, what-are-the-chances nature, we'll overlook the ghastly details. Art imitates life indeed.

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