Just four months after 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones died while filming Midnight Rider in rural Georgia, crew member Ronnie Sands was nearly killed after being electrocuted on the Atlanta set of the civil rights drama Selma, and now Sands is speaking out about the near-fatal electrocution and the importance of on-set safety procedures. If you have been injured in a Georgia workplace accident, or if you lost a loved one in a fatal job-site accident in GA, consult our knowledgeable lawyers at Rechtman & Spevak today for legal help. You may have grounds to file a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party liability lawsuit, in order to pursue the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries and medical expenses.
Injuries Resulting from Massive Shock
Ronnie Sands was working as a lighting technician on the set of Selma back in June, and says he was pressed for time while installing an 18,000-watt bulb, when someone reportedly connected the plug into the main power source. “That’s when Ronnie was hit with the voltage and the arc of light that hit him in the face,” says Sands’ fiancée, Kelly Shure. “Everyone just started announcing on the radios, ‘Man down! Man electrocuted!’” The lighting technician was admitted to a nearby emergency room for treatment after the job-site accident, and doctors determined that the massive shock Sands received caused him to suffer from memory loss, blurred vision, painful headaches and lasting nerve damage.
Sarah Jones’ On-Set Death in Georgia
The circumstances surrounding Sands’ near-fatal electrocution in Atlanta are especially worrying, as the job-site accident occurred just months after the on-set death of Sarah Jones, who was struck by a train on a live track in Wayne County, Georgia, while filming the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider. Following an investigation into the case of the fatal workplace accident in Georgia, it was determined that the film crew did not have permission to shoot on the narrow bridge trestle over the Altamaha River, where the accident took place, nor did they have the proper safety precautions in place for workers. Jones’ death sparked grief nationwide and spurred an industry-wide reckoning on the importance of workplace standards protecting the safety and well-being of crew members on set.
Lighting Technician Nearly Electrocuted to Death
The work-site accident that nearly killed Ronnie Sands occurred as the lighting technician was setting up lights while standing a few feet off the ground on a Condor elevating platform. “On the day of filming, the director of photography and the unit production manager decided that [one of the lights wasn’t bright enough], and they decided to change the lighting from Tungsten to 18k HMI, the color temperature that is equal to sunlight. This changeup put the first unit electric crew into a rush.” It was when Sands was changing the bulb that another crew member plugged the ballast into the generator, causing an arc of electricity to strike Sands in the face and 18,000 watts to travel into his hand, up his arm and into his neck, head and heart.
A Mechanical Error May Have Contributed to Sands’ Injuries
In addition to human error, there may also have been a mechanical error that caused Sands to receive the massive shock, and Sands says he expected Selma Productions to file a report with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after the accident. However, the company never filed an incident report, and it wasn’t until Sands fiancée filed a complaint with OSHA officials in November that the agency became aware of the job-site accident. Shure received an answer from OSHA just last week, but the agency told her that they were unable to adequately investigate the job-site accident, since filming had already wrapped months before.
Contact Our Skilled Workers’ Comp Lawyers Today
Six months after his workplace accident, Sands continues to suffer from serious injuries that prevent him from working, and a neurologist’s report from August indicates that he is still experiencing “difficulty with cognition, memory and thinking, over and beyond the electrical pain in [his] right arm.” Sands has been able to collect workers’ compensation benefits for his job-site injuries, but the amount is nowhere near enough to pay his bills, and the production company involved in Selma has not responded to his attempts at contact. If you have suffered serious injuries on-the-job in Atlanta, Marietta, or elsewhere in Georgia, contact our workers’ compensation lawyers at Rechtman & Spevak today to explore your possible compensation options.