Director Randal Miller Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter


Randall Miller, perhaps best known for directing Savannah(2013) and Bottle Shock(2008), has become the first director to be jailed for involuntary manslaughter caused by an on-set fatality.

An Overview of the Tragic Incident

The director of the proposed Allman Brothers Band biographic film – Midnight Rider has accepted punishment for criminal trespassing and accidental manslaughter concerning the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones. A freight train struck and killed her while the crew was shooting in Georgia in February 2014. She was hit by the fuel tank’s edge and run over by the train. Sarah’s death startled everyone in Hollywood.

The freight track used for the shooting is one of the busiest in Wayne County. Miller and his crew were well aware that the track was in use. Miller also admitted to a court in Georgia that he had not attained any legal permission to use the track and thought it was not his job to do so. However, he claimed that the producers had every permission to use the land from its owner. Yet, the rail operator CSX later said they had denied the teams’ request twice and never permitted them to use the track.

The Punishment

Miller has been sentenced to two years in jail and eight years of probation. The director was fined $20,000 as a part of his sentence. He will also complete 360 hours of community service. From the rest of the crew, executive producer Jay Sedrish has also accepted ten years probation with no jail time. In contrast, film producer and Miller’s wife, Jody Savin, is no longer facing such charges.

The biopic movie Midnight Rider itself is unlikely to be released ever. The lead singer from the ABB band, Mr. Allman, has sued the producer to prevent any process of reviving the movie. Although a settlement was made between the two later, the details of the court settlement have not been disclosed.

Similar Court Cases

The case is not one of its kind to hit Hollywood. In 1982, director John Landis and four associates were also charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of actor Vic Morrow and two other child actors due to a helicopter crash while shooting for The Twilight Zone – a television series.

Also, in 1993, actor Brandon Lee died on the set when the gun being used while filming surprisingly turned out to be loaded with live ammunition. However, the actor who killed Lee on the set of “The Crow” was not charged.

After the Sentencing Hearing

After Miller’s sentencing, Sarah’s parents told the media it was all they wanted. They said they were never seeking revenge but always looking for accountability. Judge Anthony Harrison called it a tragic accident that could have been prevented. He requested Jones’ parents to give some meaning to this incident and contribute to the message of safety to the industry.

If you have any questions about Director Randal Miller or his guilty plea, please post a comment below. Want more? Get the scoop on more celebrity drama in our Celebrity Investigations section.


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