‘Rust’ Prosecutors’ Challenge: Why It’s So Hard to Get Convictions From Movie Set Deaths

17 fatal occupational injuries have been recorded on film and TV sets since 2011, but only one has led to a criminal conviction

When Richard Jones’ daughter Sarah Jones died while filming on active railroad tracks during the first day of filming director Randall Miller’s “Midnight Rider” in 2014, he founded the nonprofit Safety for Sarah to insure that such a fatal on-set accident “never again” happen, only to become heartbroken when cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died on the set of “Rust” last month.

While Sarah Jones’ death during the production of the indie film was not the only case in which someone was fatally wounded in an on-set accident, it remains the only instance in the U.S. in which a director was convicted on criminal charges. In 2015, Miller pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass and served a year in jail followed by probation.

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Brian Welk

Film Reporter • brian.welk@thewrap.com • Twitter: @brianwelk