Variety reported that while filming a fight scene on Wednesday, Bernecker lost his balance and fell off a more than 20-foot high balcony onto a concrete floor. The stuntman suffered a serious head injury and was rushed to the Atlanta Medical Center via helicopter. He was placed on a ventilator, but, according to the Coweta County Coroner Richard Hawk, Bernecker died of "blunt force trauma" due to his fall on Wednesday night.
Since 2009, Bernecker has worked as a stuntman appearing in films such as Logan, The Fate Of The Furious, Get Out, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and both Mockingjay movies. According to his IMDb page he also worked on Marvel's Black Panther, due out February 16, 2018.
Bernecker's longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Cocker — who reportedly worked as a walker on The Walking Dead — wrote on Facebook after the accident that "John deserves to be seen by every neurosurgeon and doctor there is until one of them sees the life we all know he has in him and bring him back to us... THIS ISNT FAIR."
Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie on the show, tweeted, "Dear Walking Dead Family, please keep John Bernecker, our stuntman and his family in your prayers today."
Executive producer Gale Ann Hurd tweeted, "We are all praying for him, his family, friends and colleagues."
After the accident, The Walking Dead shut down filming of its eighth season and released a statement to Deadline. "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,” AMC said. “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.”
Deadline reported that the producers of The Walking Dead and AMC have not commented on how long production will be halted.
On Thursday, the SAG-AFTRA actors union released a statement saying it would investigate the accident. "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," the statement said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the performer and his family.”
Since news of his death, actors have sent their love and support to his family including Twilight's Kellan Lutz. "#JohnBernecker was one of the best most talented stuntmen I have ever been blessed to work with," he tweeted. "Praying for his family and loved ones!"
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