Day two of civil trial against CSX railroad corp. in ‘Midnight Rider’ death

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Day two of testimony in the civil trial against CSX Transportation took place at Chatham County Courthouse Wednesday.

The case involves the family of Sarah Jones, who was struck and killed while filming on set of the movie ‘Midnight Rider’ in 2014, verse CSX Transportation railroad corporation who owns and runs the railroad.

The day held testimony from both sides of the case- CSX representatives, train dispatch, and the costume designer on set with Sarah Jones, who says they had no idea they were trespassing.

Karen Keyes says when the crew showed up to film at the location in Jesup, it looked like any other movie set. She says she had no idea they working on a live track until the first train came through, then another, before the third –the one that struck and killed Sarah Jones.

“The wind was fierce… the horn… was… near deafening. And… the power of that train — the most terrifying position I had been in my entire life. And I just remember hoping that it would stop,” Keyes testified.

CSX claims the ‘Midnight Rider’ crew was trespassing. The plaintiff presented a document stating that anyone trespassing on tracks is considered a railroad emergency. The plaintiff implied this protocol would have placed the responsibility of contacting dispatch on the conductors of the first two trains that drove through the film set prior to the third.

The plaintiff asked CSX Corporate Representative James Murray, “The train crew is expected to recognize the presence of the trespasser, and when safe to do so, report the presence of the trespasser, does CSX agree with that statement?”

“If the crew realizes they are a trespasser, yes,” responded Murray under oath.

The plaintiff says because the “trespassers” were not reported to dispatch, the railroad company did not show reasonable care to protect those on set that day.

The jury also heard from an expert who works for another railroad, He said the emergency breaks on the railroad started five seconds after impact, but it should have been before impact.

There were also two separate times in the day that the defense asked for a mistrial, but were denied.

The trial is expected to continue until the weekend.


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