Stuntman John Bernecker sustained a serious head injury during production of The Walking Dead this past week in Atlanta, halting production on season 8. Early this morning, TMZ reported that Bernecker was pronounced dead yesterday evening. The official cause of death from the Medical Examiner's office is accidental blunt force trauma.
Although the specific stunt or sequence has yet to be reported in detail, we do know that the accident occurred from a fall of over 25 feet to a concrete floor. Bernecker's SAG-AFTRA union is currently investigating the logistics of the tragic fall. Bernecker's girlfriend – also a stunt actor – posted on Facebook shortly after the incident that the injury could be life-threatening. According to TMZ, his girlfriend, as well as friends and family surrounded Bernecker as his ventilator was turned off.
Deadline reports that veteran stuntman John Bernecker sustained a serious head injury during production of The Walking Dead season 8, after tragically falling 30 feet to a concrete floor. He was rehearsing a fight scene and lost his footing. Bernecker was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced brain-dead. He was taken off of life support after his family made arrangements. For their part, AMC has temporarily halted production on season 8 of The Walking Dead and have not indicated when it will resume.
Already a seasoned professional, the 33 year old Bernecker has an attributed 92 stunt credits on IMDb in just under a decade, including major Hollywood feature films Green Lantern, Battleship, The Fate of the Furious, Goosebumps, Logan, and the upcoming Black Panther. Television work included True Detective, 24: Legacy, The Magicians and The Vampire Diaries. The stuntman's 2016 reel on YouTube showcases his work with Will Ferrell on Get Hard and Channing Tatum in 22 Jump Street among others.
The Walking Dead and its spinoff series Fear the Walking Dead are known for moments of extreme violence and action, much of which is possible by the men and women putting their lives on the line to perform stunt work. To the disappointment of much of the stunt community, there has yet to be a category during the Oscar nor Emmy awards honoring stunt work annually.
Sadly, this is the second tragic death related to the television series. Earlier in the week, voice actor Randy Schell, responsible for AMC's "previously on" narratives, amongst other work, died in a skydiving accident.
Production for the show, of which the majority films at the Raleigh Studios in Senola, Georgia, remains on hold with no indication of when it will resume. There is no word on any change to the previously announced October 16, 2017 premiere date of season 8 from AMC.