After suffering a head injury as a result of a fall on set of The Walking Dead, stuntman John Bernecker has passed away. Bernecker’s 90 stunt credits since 2009 include films such as Black Panther, Logan, Get Out, The Fate of the Furious and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. He also was featured in a 2014 episode of the web series Behind the Stunts.
Sources say Bernecker and an actor were rehearsing a fight scene that was supposed to end with a routine fall from a balcony when he lost his footing and fell 30 feet to a concrete floor. He was pronounced brain-dead at Atlanta Medical Center and was taken off life support.
AMC temporarily halted production on Season 8 of the series in the wake of the accident. In a statement, the network said:
“We are saddened to report that John Bernecker, a talented stuntman for ‘The Walking Dead’ and numerous other television shows and films, suffered serious injuries from a tragic accident on set. He was immediately transported to an Atlanta hospital and we have temporarily shut down production.”
A SAG-AFTRA spokesperson said the guild is investigating the accident.
John Bernecker was 33.
Stunt work has always been dangerous, but less so now than ever before, said veteran stuntman Conrad Palmisano, a member of the SAG-AFTRA stunt and safety committee. “Generally, it’s safer now that it was 20 years ago, and I anticipate it being safer 20 years from now than it was today,” he told Deadline. “But it’s still a dangerous business. The nature of stunts is inherently dangerous, and we work very hard to create stunts in the safest possible manner. However, it’s still dangerous and things can go wrong. It’s never one thing. Usually the planets have to align in all the wrong ways for something tragically to go wrong. When we as a stunt community examine what happened, we look to fix the problem, not to affix the blame.”