Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

After fatal railroad accident, Allman biopic filming suspended

Many Shelby residents know that while making a Hollywood film may seem glamorous, it is also hard work. But few may realize that it can also be dangerous. If mistakes are made in obtaining the necessary filming permits and clearances, a film crew can find themselves in an extremely risky situation.

Production for Southern rocker Gregg Allman's biopic film, "Midnight Rider," was halted after a tragic train accident killed one camera assistant and injured several others on Thursday, Feb. 20 in Savannah, Georgia. According to another camera assistant in the film production crew, a CSX train heading from Memphis surprised them as they were preparing a "dream sequence" scene, with a hospital bed on the train tracks. Two trains had already passed the crew while they worked on this sequence. When the third train appeared, it was traveling at full speed, unable to come to a halt on time.

The crew member describes the crew trying to outrun the train. The other camera assistant was carrying a heavy load, and was told by her co-worker to drop it. She was unable to act quickly enough, and was crushed by the train. According to local authorities, about seven crew members were injured as well.

Film crew members generally assume that when they are called in to work, the necessary permits have been obtained and their safety ensured by responsible parties. It is the job of the production company staff, not the crew members, to obtain clearances and assure that the crew will be safe while filming.

According to Variety magazine, the film production company has halted production until further notice. The incident is being investigated by local law enforcement authorities. While the film company still hopes to distribute the film within the U.S., it is unclear how this tragedy will affect the film's reception if production continues. The film had cast Tyson Ritter and William Hurt as the younger and current versions of the rock guitarist.

While the average Shelby resident is not involved in making Hollywood films, train accidents can happen to anyone. Despite all precautions, trains can crash, fail to stop, or become derailed. This can result in serious injuries, even death. A personal injury attorney can help victims obtain justice for negligence, and receive compensation for damages like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, property damage, loss of income, and medical or funeral expenses.

Source: Entertainment Weekly, "REPORT: Gregg Allman biopic 'Midnight Rider' suspends production after fatal train accident" Nina Terrero, Feb. 27, 2014

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