Location manager of ‘Midnight Rider’ testifies in civil trial against CSX railroad

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The defense brought their last witness to the stand Friday before resting their case in the civil trial against CSX railroad corp. in the death of Sarah Jones on set of ‘Midnight Rider’.

The defense argued that the film crew knew for a fact that they did not have CSX’s permission to film on the tracks and they did anyway. They brought to the stand the location manager, Charles Baxter, who said he tried to stop the crew from going down to film on the tracks that day.

Baxter was the one who had been emailing with the property owners. He says when he got the email from CSX the morning of the shoot that said they “could not support them”, he made sure the director and production manager knew.

“They said they were going to go down and film and try to get the shot done anyway.”

Communication between the film crew and property owners lasted for about a month, from January until the film date on February 20th.

Those property owners include Rayonier who owns the land and CSX who owns the railroad.

The plaintiff says CSX never gave them a clear no and Rayonier ultimately said it was okay.

Baxter testified that he called his communications contact at Rayonier, Tina Kicklighter, when he received the email from CSX that morning.

“I called her to say – I guess you read the emails, we don’t have permission, and they still want to come, they still want to film, and, that I’m not going to be joining,” Baxter testified, “And she said no, don’t worry about it, they have permission to be on our property.”

The defense rested their case Friday, but during the rebuttal, the plaintiff argued again that the third train should have stopped.

Closing arguments will take place on Monday.

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