UPDATE: An Atlanta jury awarded $ 8.6 million to the estate of John Bernecker, a stuntman who was working on set of The Walking Dead when he suffered a fatal fall from a balcony in July 2017.
Attorney Jeff Harris, who represented Bernecker’s mother in the seven-day trial, said in a statement, “John was a remarkably talented stunt professional who had an incredibly bright future in the film industry. My sincere hope is this verdict sends a clear message regarding the need to both elevate and strictly adhere to industry safety standards every day, on every shoot, on every film set. John’s tragic and preventable death happened as a result of a series of safety-related failures. Learning from these failures will go a long way in making sure that similar tragedies do not happen to another performer or another family.”
Production on the eighth season of The Walking Dead has been temporarily halted by AMC after a stuntman suffered an injury on the set in Atlanta on Wednesday, E! News has confirmed. The stuntman, John Bernecker, passed away from injuries sustained in a fall.
The cause of death is blunt force trauma and it has been ruled an accidental death, according to Coweta County Medical Examiner’s Office.
“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,” an AMC spokesperson said in a statement provided to E! News after the fall was reported. “He was immediately transported to an Atlanta hospital and we have temporarily shut down production. We are keeping John and his family in our thoughts and prayers.”
“Deep sorrow today, and for every tomorrow,” star Jeffrey Dean Morgan wrote on Twitter following news of John’s passing. “Love, respect and condolences to John’s family, and friends. He will be forever missed.”
On Thursday, star Lauren Cohan tweeted, “Dear Walking Dead Family, please keep John Bernecker, our stuntman and his family in your prayers today.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bernecker was hospitalized after sustaining serious injuries when he fell more than 20 feet onto a concrete floor. Bernecker was then medevaced to Atlanta Medical Center, where he is being treated in intensive care.
In addition to his work on the AMC zombie hit, the Atlanta-based Bernecker has also worked on shows such as 24:Legacy, Scream Queens and Into the Badlands. He also worked on major films, including Logan, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay films, 22 Jump Street and The Fate of the Furious, as well as the upcoming Black Panther.
(This story was originally published on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 12:28 p.m. PST.)