WEST COLUMBIA, SC — Working on a camera crew was more than just a job for Sarah Elizabeth Jones, the 27-year-old who was killed last week while filming a movie in south Georgia.
Working on a film crew was a passion.
Jobs are what people do to earn money, Rev. Joel Jones said at her funeral Wednesday afternoon. But vocations are what people are called to do by God, he said.
“That’s where their soul sings,” he said.
Sarah Jones’ soul sang to many in her career and life, as proved by the packed sanctuary at Ashland United Methodist Church. Her death has reverberated throughout the industry and touched people she knew even briefly.
“Sarah had such a passion for living, it was amazing,” the reverend said to a crowd of about 500 people celebrating the life of Sarah Jones, which began in 1986. That same year camcorders started to become a household thing, “and that was a good sign for Sarah Elizabeth,” the reverend said.
She was known to have a camera in her hand as a child, he said.
She was also known to be full of energy. She was active when she was young, participating in gymnastics and cheerleading.
Perry Diamond went to Brookland-Cayce High School with Jones, and his sister cheered with her and was one of her best friends, he said. He described Jones as “full of life” and “fun to be around.”
Jones became Earth-conscious, with a holistic approach to diet and nutrition – with one exception, the reverend said.
But she wanted to make sure the pigs were raised ethically, he pointed out.
“After all, happy pigs make happy bacon,” the reverend quoted her once explaining.
Jones was helping film “Midnight Rider,” a biopic about musician Gregg Allman, of the Allman Brothers Band, when she was killed.
An investigator with the Wayne County (Ga.) Sheriff’s Department said the movie crew was working on train tracks without the railroad’s consent when a freight train collided into the production team and its equipment. The incident killed Jones and injured seven others at a railroad trestle over the Altamaha River.
The tracks are owned by CSX Railroad and cross private land owned by forest-products company Rayonier, which has a nearby paper mill. Joe Gardner, the lead detective on the case, said the crew had Rayonier’s permission to film on its property next to the train tracks.
Jones attended the College of Charleston, where she minored in film studies.
Jones had interned on the popular television show “Army Wives” while she was in Charleston. In her career, she was referred to as an ant because she could carry the heavy cameras, the reverend said.
Jones had also spent time traveling to places such as Amsterdam, England and France.
During the services, Jones’ father sat at the piano and played the last song she had heard him play.
He played the song for his daughter’s final sleep, he said.
Her family had written a note to Jones upon her college graduation. It was printed on the back of the bulletin.
“Sarah, go out into the world and create adventures, dream your dreams and live your life, scripted only by you. You are the director and the producer of this day forward,” the excerpt stated.
The family is requesting that donations be made to: BC Education Foundation, Sarah Jones Scholarship Fund c/o Brookland-Cayce High School, 1300 State St., Cayce, SC 29033