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Video Production Near Railway Claims Yet Another Life

Choosing active train routes as a shoot location has claimed yet another life last Saturday. This time it was fitness model and instructor Greg Plitt. When are we going to learn that these locations are dangerous and should be avoided. Putting your life in danger isn't worth the shot, ever.

Police say Plitt was filming an ad with friends for a protein shake when the accident occurred. A witness recalls seeing him stumble near the tracks with his camcorder in hand. The locomotive was reportedly sounding its air horns, it's not likely the crew was unaware of the approach. Plitt was known for his workout videos, which often take place on or near railways. The former Marine had found success on television recently with Bravo’s reality show "Workout," and was a body double in "Watchmen." He had also recently been cast in an upcoming Bravo show called "Friends to Lovers."

Greg Plitt in "A Call To Action VI" via YouTube.

Add this unfortunate event to the ever growing list of reasons not to utilize train tracks for shoots. The most recent and mainstream media tragedy may have been Hollywood's "Midnight Rider" disaster in May of last year. Photographers routinely mock the cliche train tracks shot, yet people still envision the concept working for them. Instead, Find a unique location, sans the 10,000-ton machine that has limited ability to stop. Another major deterrent is the fact you are trespassing on private or federal land. If caught, you are subject to fine and possible removal of your photos from the publication. Photographing on or near the tracks may also land you on a government watch list.

If you or your client insists on using railways for the shoot, contact the owner and request a permit or an escort. The historic railroad in my hometown has been more than accommodating for my clients and myself to use their facilities, when properly notified. They might even surprise you and let you into an elegant historic car.

[via CNN]

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Justin Haugen's picture

Every time I feel like nothing more needs to be said on this topic, someone else dies and I'm totally wrong. Maybe they need a PSA or there needs to be more publicity when this happens.

Chris Smart's picture

No, nothing needs to be said. It's common sense. When you see or hear a train coming you get off and away from the tracks. As a society we shouldn't be bending over backwards everytime to address things so obvious and the very foolish things some people will do.

Kevin Mark's picture

Valid point, although as hard as it is to believe, there are some blind corners where a train is completely, unseen and muted. I used to go to a school right across the streets from the tracks and very close to 2 stations. The school was right near one of these strange blind curves. You couldn't see, hear, or even feel the tracks vibrate until it was almost too late. No one died on that corner from back when I was in high school, but there were many close calls. This doesn't seem to be the case for this poor soul. People seriously need to get their heads out of their butts and stop this track shooting nonsense.

Chris Smart's picture

Not hard to believe at all but that's a separate issue that really shouldn't be brought up in a case that has nothing to do with that. While you acknowledge that it is a separate issue, the problem in a lot of the thinking you see today is when extreme circumstances lead to calls for extreme solutions for things that have really simple solutions, and that are unrelated. People with extreme political and social agendas like to take advantage of such situations.

For example, not too long ago there was another fatal train incident in CA and it didn't take to long for the less than rational and sensible to call for all tracks to be fenced off. Of course logistically and economically that wouldn't be possible, but more importantly such a thing is obviously not necessary.

The gun control debate is another good example. When you get a child committing a mass shooting you get the gun control fanatics screaming for extreme gun control and outright bans, when the obvious solution would be to punish severely parents that don't secure their guns in a household with minors. Would that guarantee that no child gets access to a gun? Of course not. But there are few guarantees in life and no one should expect there to be.

Mr Blah's picture

"They might even surprise you and let you into an elegant historic car."

YEP! In my hometown there is a massive train museum and the stuff in there is just amazing! Locate one near your house and drive there!

Why get boring oil or grain cargo train in your shots... ?

Lee Ramsden's picture

This makes my stomach turn. Such a waste. As a photographer and working health and safety professional it does amaze me what people will do. Train tracks and these stupid kids hanging off cranes without the use of fall protection just astounds me. This requires serious media publacy and attention before more get injured or suffer life changing accidents.

james johnson's picture

My favorite is how they think that they don't need the fall protection because they have never fallen, or that they don't have to worry about shooting on the tracks because they have always heard the trains coming.

People just don't understand that the thing about precaution is that you don't need it until the one time you do... and then it's too late.

Chris Smart's picture

The media shouldn't be wasting it's time on addressing an obvious lack of common sense. It's sad someone was killed, but people die everyday from very foolish and very obvious things they should not be doing.

Lee Ramsden's picture

See your point Chris, but id rather the media spend efforts on helping civilisation rather than the where-abouts of the Kardashian's. :)

Sean Gibson's picture

I don't want to sound cold here, but unless you can take the stupidity out of society, you will always have people dying in lame, unnecessary ways. I've reached a point in my life where I know of too many people dying through no fault of their own, to mourn over the ones who are solely responsible for their own coming to an end. Unfortunately it's always the families left behind that really suffer the true pain.

Jonas Karlsson's picture

Yeah, dont play on train tracks, its illegal and dangerous. But to put this in perspective, the car commute to a train track is probably many times more dangerous. According to tmz this dude ive never heard of tried to do a stunt where he was being chased by a train.

Chris Smart's picture

As kids we used to walk the tracks all the time. The key to safety and survival? Get off the tracks when you hear or see a train coming.

Dan Ostergren's picture

It sucks that as a community we have to be reminded of this danger so often, and it's a huge shame that people are still losing lives because of this. I'm glad that articles like this are being published though; an article like this WILL save lives. Media coverage on this topic will also save lives. I don't give a damn if someone thinks it's stupid to address this topic in media outlets simply because they feel that people are foolish and lacking common sense. Foolishness or lack of common sense does not mean that one should have to die because of it. Rather than letting them die, educate them.

Chris Smart's picture

What makes you think they are not already educated on the matter and aware of the danger?

As children my friends and I walked the tracks all the time. We were certainly aware of the danger involved and we got away from the tracks when we were aware of a train coming. This man died because he was trying to outrun a train!

To think that the media should constantly be all over stories when people die because of clealrless wreckless and foolish chooses is unreasonable. Heck, that would be all you would see on the news and in the media.

Dan Ostergren's picture

You can have your opinion on the matter, but honestly I don't give a flying rat's ass what you think.

I would appreciate it if you no longer comment on my posts. Thanks.

Chris Smart's picture

No disrespect intended, but if you didn't care about what I think then you would not be responding to me.

The hostility and disrespect in your post is uncalled for and unjustified. This is a forum, and by posting on a forum you are inviting other people to comment on whatver you say, and especially so when you *choose* to respond to them (you know what I'm talking about). That's why we all have the ability to "reply" to other people's posts.

I will continue to respectfully respond to anything posted in this forum that may interest me. I encourage you to do the same, but hopefully in a more respectful manner.

Dan Ostergren's picture

Keep talking dude, you're the only one who cares to hear what you have to say. Bye now.

Karl Petersson's picture

Daniel, Ignore this guy, He just likes the sound of he´s own voice. I ended up in a discussion with him and he likes to have an opinion about anything only it seems for the sake of a arguing with people and stirring up a bad wibe. It is completely counter productive to give him any of your time and he is by my definition a classic troll. I decided to look at hes activity and bees been here for two weeks and since then ha has spewed opinion about everything and giving aggravation and attitude to basically everyone that is stating anything about anything.
And I tell you he will basically flame me now since that is what he seems to be very busy with all the time and I am sure he will come up with some very clever remarks.

Dan Ostergren's picture

Oh, I agree with you 100% brother. This guy see's his opinions as fact, is condescending and insulting to anyone who disagrees with him, and then acts like he's above it all when someone calls him out on it or gets upset with him. Right there with you: he's a troll.

Chris Smart's picture

Unlike you and the people you are now showing support for, I have never flamed or trolled anyone. What I will do though is report your post.

Dan Ostergren's picture

You would think that after reporting me once already that you would stop commenting on my posts like I asked.

Chris Smart's picture

I obviously responded to your post because it was on-topic, unlike your trolling and flaming posts. I will continue to respond to your posts if they are on topic. I will not respond again to any of your flaming and trolling posts, which apparently will continue since your account is amazingly still active after reporting your posts. I figured moderation would be much better on this site compared to most. I hope I'm wrong.

Ryan Mense's picture

You guys need to relax and stop bickering across multiple articles. Giving your viewpoint and defending it is great, but don't let it keep leading into these back-and-forths that have nothing to do with the article.

Chris Smart's picture

Are you kidding Ryan? You have people that are obviously trolling and flaming me and that's your response?

I'm not flaming and trolling anyone, so you likening me to people that obviously are is very disrespectful of you.

What's the point of having an option to "report abuse" if you don't have the objectivity, maturity, moral courage, and decency to do anything about it?

I had gotten the impression that this site was above worthless moderation, and trolls and flamers, but apparently I was wrong.

I will now end my contribution to this site. You can enjoy a much more shallower, phonier, juvenile, and hostile site as a result. A site where you allow troublemakers to insult and attack anyone that disagrees with them, and that encourage others to do the same.

The sad thing is, is you are harming the integrity and future of this site and you don't even realize it. You don't even realize it.

No doubt the troublemakers that you are enabling will be happy that you lost an active and positive contributor to your site. Maybe you don't care, so long as you have a few eyes looking at your ads. Huh?

Congratulations and good riddance to you and your site.

Aaron Brown's picture


Karl Petersson's picture

Yes I am sorry and consider me relaxed, this exchange became way out of hand and "somewhat" off topic.

Dan Ostergren's picture


Karl Petersson's picture

Please Chris if you feel that that is right please go ahead. I sincerely and with best intentions want to tell you that some of the attitude you display causes simply animosity and aggravation and is very poorly received by others. I am convinced that you feel correct in your assumptions of having understood what other people are about and that they simply have not understood your arguments and that you are correct in yours.
Please understand that other people might have made other conclusions from the same or similar experiences and that they are not automatically incorrect but of another perspective. That does not mean that they have to be corrected by you and in your sometimes rather abrupt language. Unfortunately having a different opinion does not necessarily mean you have to tell other people that they are wrong.
I sincerely hope that you might take this on and understand that I hope you will understand that this is not said with any ill intention but simply to achieve a friendlier tone among strangers as we all are here.
Best wishes and have a good life.

Chris Smart's picture

Forums are where people come to express their views and opinions on different topics. If someone thinks and chooses to express that they feel you are wrong about something then that is their right, and their opinion. It's why forums exist. Forums do not exist so that people will always agree with you and so that you get personal validation. That's not how forums work: that's not how life works.

As for this most recent post of yours coming after the one where you tried to convince others to ostracize me, you must think people are stupid to buy your attempt to now try and be helpful and honorable in your intentions. It's just a disgusting and obviously dishonest attempt to try and portray yourself in a positive light while trying to portray me in a negative light.

Your kind of posts, and the posts of the people that are also obviously trolling and flaming, are the bane of most forums today. The sad part about it is, people like you are usually allowed to continue with your destructive and disruptive behavior.

I will not be responding to your off-topic and insulting posts, but I will keep reporting anyone that is obviously flamming and trolling, as you are.

jason armond's picture

The desire to have a coolest jaw dropping shoot leads to extreme risk taking by photographers and producers. A lot of times you see these awesome images or film stunts. The thing is most have huge budgets to safely pull off these shoots. Even with safety precautions accidents happens all the time on sets. Now think about the run and gun shoots with no safety precautions. The desire to have high risk, high production value shoot on a low / no budget. A recipe for tragedy. Happens all the time.

jason armond's picture

Even with a larger budget you have risk taking. Camera assistant killed on train tracks.

Kyle Ford's picture

Yea that's exactly the one I was referring to in the article. Crazy how that could happen.

J D's picture

So sad and avoidable.

Getting a "cool" shot is not worth my, or my clients life/lives. For years now I have refused to do a shoot on or near tracks. Just not worth it to me.

Chris Smart's picture

Why? With common sense and proper saftey precautions, and preferably going through the right channels with the relevant rail authority, there wouldn't be any safety issue. Now if you are planing to do a shoot where you have people trying to play chicken with a train or outrun it, as it was in this case, then yeah that will have very obvious risks.


400 tonnes of passenger train travelling at 125mph covers a (UK) mile in 29 seconds and takes 1.25 miles to stop. 2000 tonnes of ballast train can be moving at walking pace in absolute silence. I've seen it!

Getting to work on track is not a problem..all you need to do is get qualified, both photographer and models, set up a safe system of work, employ a lookout and a COSS, plan the shoot 3 months ahead, set up a track possession with protection, have all insurances/permits in place.

I am thinking that it is a historical attitude to railways, in Europe most lines are fenced and people know they are trespassing if they go lineside and will be prosecuted, in the USA and many other counties there are so many places where people and trains come into close proximity without any barriers-leading to complacency about the risk.

My point being..if you are a professional offering a service then act like a professional, do not put your clients and employees at risk.

Rule No1. Don't put yourself in danger
Rule No2. Don't put anyone else in danger.