The production company behind AMC's The Walking Dead has been slapped with the maximum fine in connection with death of stuntman John Bernecker. The Walking Dead was rocked by the tragic death of Bernecker, who passed away July 14, two days after he suffered blunt-force trauma injuries after a stunt fall gone awry on the set of the show in Senoia, Georgia. The tragedy was the first in two months on a major Hollywood production, preceding the untimely death of a stuntwoman on the set of Deadpool 2 in a motorcycle accident in August.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that Bernecker sustained the fatal injuries after falling more than 20 feet from a balcony to a concrete floor during the rehearsal of a fight scene with an actor. In the fall, Bernecker, who was 33, missed an airbag on the surface of the concrete and struck his head on the ground. The Walking Dead paid tribute to the stuntman in its season premiere last fall.
According to The Wrap, OSHA issued a "serious citation" on Friday and imposed the maximum fine – $12,675 – on The Walking Dead production company Stalwart Films LLC "for the company’s failure to provide adequate protection from fall hazards." In a press release from OSHA, the agency's Atlanta regional administrator, Kurt Petermeyer said, "This tragedy should serve as a wake-up call for the entertainment industry. The entire industry needs to commit to safety practices for actors and stunt people involved in this type of work."
Stalwart Films responded to the news of the fine with a statement of its own. The production company appeared unhappy with the ruling, saying:
"This was a tragic and terrible accident. We take the safety of our employees extremely seriously on all of our sets and comply with – and frequently exceed – industry safety standards. We disagree with the issuance of this citation and are considering our response."
Citing the OSHA press release, The Wrap says that Stalwart Films has 15 days to comply or contest OSHA's findings.
If Stalwart Films contests the ruling, it most likely has nothing to do with the fine, but rather the far-reaching implications that come with the OSHA's ruling, since the findings could possibly be used in any civil litigation in connection with the Bernecker's passing.
At the time of his death, Bernecker had amassed a solid list of credits, with stunt work on the films Logan, Get Out, and The Hunger Games franchise. He also worked on the upcoming films Black Panther and Rampage. In addition to The Walking Dead, Bernecker's TV credits included 24: Legacy and Into the Badlands.
Source: The Wrap