Elizabeth McCartha Jones, mother of “Midnight Rider” crew member Sarah Jones who was killed during production of the Gregg Allman biopic, condemned The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday for callously reporting the details of her daughter’s autopsy.
“I am totally stunned, I am totally appalled, and I am ashamed of the callous reporter who leaked the autopsy report of our daughter for the world to see,” she wrote in an open letter.
An attorney representing Sarah’s parents issued a released a statement on their behalf: “There was no valid, newsworthy reason to reveal the details of Sarah’s autopsy,” Jeffrey R. Harris, counsel for Elizabeth and Richard Jones, wrote. “The only reason to do so is out of a sick desire to sensationalize this young woman’s terrible death.”
As TheWrap previously reported, Jones, a camera assistant on the feature film “Midnight Rider,” was killed when a train hit her on Feb. 20, 2014 while filming a dream sequence scene on a bridge lying above the Altamaha River. Several crew members were injured during the incident, as well.
The film’s director Randall Miller, his wife and the film’s producer Jody Salvin and executive producer Jay Sedrish were each charged with criminal trespass and involuntary manslaughter following Jones’ death.
Earlier this week Miller changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison and 10 years probation, though his lawyer expects him to serve only one of those years.
The Hollywood Reporter posted the details of Jones’ autopsy after the trial concluded, prompting her mother to pen the strongly worded note.
Read Elizabeth McCartha Jones’ full letter immediately below and the attorney’s entire note at the bottom:
To The Hollywood Reporter:
I am totally stunned, I am totally appalled, and I am ashamed of the callous reporter who leaked the autopsy report of our daughter for the world to see. Although the grace and beauty of Sarah Elizabeth Jones outshines the deprecating words on a page, no one, NO ONE, should be so low as to think this gruesome report is newsworthy.
To the reporter, where is your own honor? Is your desire to climb the rungs of a career ladder so important that you infringe upon the privacy and civility of a family whose daughter was tragically hit by a train? Is our pain of losing a daughter not enough that you feel the need to exploit Sarah’s dignity?
Shame on the tabloid that published the article, that it should be so crude and selfish for readership numbers? Does that not put you in the same category of selfishness as the movie producers who thought it was ok to steal a shot?
Look at the lives of those you have harmed by publishing detail by detail, Sarah’s autopsy report. Do you not realize the pain and sadness of the Jones family? Do you not have an inkling of decency? Did the thought even occur to you that perhaps Sarah’s family did not choose to remember her by the poignant description of her remains?
It is my hope for you that you will discover one goes much further and higher with greater respect and honor than sensationalism that is harmful to not only the one you are reporting on, but the surrounding community as well.
It is my hope for you that you will find a place in the world of journalism that will not allow such
indecency be a motivating facet of readership. It is my hope that the ones who are offended by this report will speak out and let The Hollywood Reporter know their thoughts.
Elizabeth McCartha Jones
“The careless and callous decision made by The Hollywood Reporter to publish the ‘grisly’ details of Sarah Jones’ death has caused significant anguish and heartbreak for her family, friends and co-workers. There was no valid, newsworthy reason to reveal the details of Sarah’s autopsy. The only reason to do so is out of a sick desire to sensationalize this young woman’s terrible death. As news organization that purports to care about the film industry and has presented itself as one that is deeply concerned about what happened to Sarah, about her family and about ensuring safety on film sets in the future, The Hollywood Reporter’s choice to run with such information shows both lack of judgment and lack of character. Unnecessary emotional pain has been inflicted on Elizabeth and Richard Jones and trust has been broken.”
– Jeffrey R. Harris, Harris Penn Lowry LLP, counsel for Elizabeth and Richard Jones
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.