Newspaper article The Canadian Press

William Hurt Says Film Set Train Death Is a 'Great Sorrow' of His Life

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

William Hurt Says Film Set Train Death Is a 'Great Sorrow' of His Life

Article excerpt

Hurt says film set tragedy is his 'great sorrow'


TORONTO - William Hurt says the horrific death of a camera assistant during a movie shoot last year is "one of the great sorrows" of his life.

The veteran actor says he's "racked his brain" over what he could have done to prevent the incident, which killed 27-year-old Sarah Jones and injured six others during an ill-fated shoot atop a railway trestle spanning Georgia's Altamaha River.

As the star of the Gregg Allman biopic "Midnight Rider," Hurt had also been on the tracks when a train suddenly came thundering toward the set.

"I just had an unsettled feeling from the very time I got there," Hurt said by phone from New York where he was promoting his upcoming AMC drama, "Humans."

"I stopped everything and I said in front of everybody, I said, 'Stop.' And I asked (assistant director) Hillary (Schwartz) in front of the whole crowd, 'Are we safe?' Because it's her job as the first AD to tell us that. She said, 'Yes.'"

Hurt says he asked whether there was a spotter to alert them to oncoming trains and how much time they'd have to get out of the way. He says he was told, "Sixty seconds."

"And I said in front of everybody, 'Sixty seconds is not enough time to get these people and this equipment off this bridge. There's just no way.' And then I looked around, thinking that the rest of the crew, who had all worked with her before ... would say something. And they didn't. They just started shambling back to work. And I thought, 'Well that's their vote. They trust her.' So we went to work."

Hurt says he lay down on a bed that had been placed perpendicular to the tracks. Then he heard Schwartz say a train was coming.

"I was barefoot and I turned around, I twisted my head and I said, 'Someone's going to die now,'" he recalls.

"I tried to yank the bed up, my feet were getting clobbered by the splinters in the ties. …

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