A stuntman filming for AMC’s hit television show The Walking Dead died last week from injuries he suffered from a fall on the show’s set in Georgia.
John Bernecker, 33, was flown to Atlanta Medical Center Wednesday, July 12, after falling more than 20 feet from a balcony on The Walking Dead set to a concrete floor below. He died at 6:30 p.m. the same day from blunt force trauma, including a head injury, Coweta County Coroner Richard Hawk said.
The Walking Dead has been filmed in and around the town of Senoia, Georgia, just southwest of Atlanta, since it launched in 2010. The show will be in its eighth season when it airs this fall.
Both the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are investigating the circumstances of Mr. Bernecker’s fatal accident. The show’s production has been temporarily halted.
“As always, the safety and security of our members and others on set is of crucial concern to us and we are focused on this in our investigation,” SAG-AFTRA said in a statement.
Laura Cohan, who plays Maggie on The Walking Dead series, joined others in expressing their grief over Mr. Bernecker’s death.
No words can express my sadness for John Bernecker and his family. Thank you all for having them in your thoughts and prayers also.
— Lauren Cohan (@LaurenCohan) July 14, 2017
“Our production is heartbroken by the tragic loss of John Bernecker. John’s work on ‘The Walking Dead’ and dozens of other movies and shows will continue to entertain and excite audiences for generations,” said Scott M. Gimple, the show’s executive producer. “We are grateful for his contributions, and all of us send our condolences, love, and prayers to John’s family and friends.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, film and TV-related deaths in the U.S. declined in the 1990s and 2000s when studios and production companies ramped up safety efforts. Increasing reliance on digital effects also replaced a lot of traditional physical stunts, resulting in fewer accidents.
Mr. Bernecker’s death is the second film- and TV-related fatality in Georgia in recent years. In 2014, crew member Sarah Jones was killed when a CSX freight train struck part of a film crew shooting on a railroad bridge in southeastern Georgia. Six other workers on the set were injured. Ms. Jones and the others were filming a scene for the movie “Midnight Rider,” a biopic about the life of Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band.
Randall Miller, who was directing the film, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2015 and was sentenced to two years in prison. Prosecutors alleged the Mr. Miller and other set leaders often failed to follow basic safety rules during filming.