'Midnight Rider' production halted after crew member death

Story highlights

  • Sarah Elizabeth Jones, 27, was hit and killed by a train on set
  • Her death rocked local film community, with many asking who was to blame
  • Preliminary NTSB report says train was traveling about 58 mph
Production of musician Gregg Allman's biopic "Midnight Rider" has been halted following the death of a 27-year-old camera assistant who was struck and killed by a freight train near Savannah, Georgia, according to Savannah's film office.
Last week's death of Sarah Elizabeth Jones rocked the local film community, with many asking who was to blame. A group of friends set up a Facebook page in tribute to Jones with a simple call to action: "Sarah Elizabeth Jones, friend and family to so many, made every day awesome. Show your slate love here along with all the good stories of her life."
"The production of 'Midnight Rider' has been halted in Savannah," film office spokesperson William Hammargren told CNN Friday. "The production company withdrew all their existing permit requests and indicated they would not be requesting more at this time."
A preliminary report on the February 20 accident -- which also injured six crew members -- from the National Transportation Safety Board said the CSX Transportation train, with two locomotives and 37 cars, was traveling about 58 mph. The maximum authorized train speed at the railroad trestle where the accident occurred was 70 mph.
Jones and others were filming on train tracks at the time of the accident, according to a police report from the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.
Film crew members from various countries have been sharing photo tributes, holding clapboards with messages of remembrance for Jones. There hundreds of images shared on the Facebook group Slates for Sarah, which was created on Monday. As of Friday, more than 50,000 people had liked the page.
Friends and co-workers are asking the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to add Jones' name to the In Memoriam list displayed during the Oscars this weekend. So far, there has been no comment from the Academy.
Jones' primary job on set was to operate the slate at the beginning of each take. Jones, an Atlanta resident and member of the International Cinematographers Guild, used her "spunk and determination" to climb up in the industry, according to her obituary.
Gregg Allman, the focus of the movie Jones was working on, shared his condolences. "I am so terribly saddened by the news of the tragedy that took the young life of Sarah Elizabeth Jones on the film set," he wrote on his website Saturday. "My thoughts and prayers go out to her family, friends and colleagues during this time of mourning."
Actors who worked on set with her, notably stars from "The Vampire Diaries," as well as crew members from TV shows "Glee," "Scandal" and "Downton Abbey," are among the hundreds who have shared messages of "RIP Sarah Jones."