‘Walking Dead’ Season 8 Resumes Production After Stuntman’s Death

The Walking Dead Season 7 Finale
Gene Page/AMC

Production on “The Walking Dead” Season 8 has resumed after being shut down last week following the death of series stuntman John Bernecker, AMC confirmed to Variety on Monday.

Last Wednesday, Bernecker was filming a scene with series regular Austin Amelio. The scene called for Bernecker to fall approximately 20 feet off of a balcony onto a safety cushion. But assistant director Matthew Goodwin told the Coweta County Sheriff’s office that Bernecker did not appear to get “a good separation” from the balcony and attempted to abort the jump by grabbing onto the balcony with both hands, according to the incident report obtained by Variety. His momentum caused him to slam into the bottom of the balcony, which made him lose his grip and fall, missing the safety cushion by “just inches.” He landed on his head and neck, with an on-site medic immediately rendering aid.

Bernecker was airlifted to an Atlanta medical center and placed on a ventilator, which his family opted to turn off on Thursday. The Coweta County Coroner’s office listed his official cause of death as blunt force trauma.

Bernecker was a veteran stunt performer and fight choreographer. Per his IMDB page, he has worked on projects such as “Olympus Has Fallen,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay”  parts 1 and 2, and “Logan,” among many others. He is also listed as having worked on upcoming films like Marvel’s “Black Panther” and Dwayne Johnson’s “Rampage.” He also worked as an actor in several films, with small parts in “Logan,” “The Last Witch Hunter,” “Goosebumps,” and an episode of Season 1 of “True Detective.”

Several series stars–including Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Norman Reedus–posted tributes to Bernecker online, along with many others in the entertainment industry with whom he had worked throughout his career.

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‘Walking Dead’ Cast Members, Other Stars React to Death of Stuntman John Bernecker

In addition, AMC and series showrunner Scott Gimple released statements on Bernecker’s death. “John Bernecker’s family has decided that he will be removed from life support, following organ donation,” AMC said late Friday. “We are deeply saddened by this loss and our hearts and prayers are with John’s family, friends and colleagues during this extremely difficult time.”

“Our production is heartbroken by the tragic loss of John Bernecker,” Gimple said. “John’s work on The Walking Dead and dozens of other movies and shows will continue to entertain and excite audiences for generations. We are grateful for his contributions, and all of us send our condolences, love, and prayers to John’s family and friends.”

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  1. BellaDonna says:

    His girlfriend shouldn’t be pointing fingers. She wasn’t there and the director said he slipped. I guess they’re all liars. The medical report will reveal what happened. It wasn’t Austin’s fault.

  2. JE Vizzusi says:

    Shoot in Georgia and die trying.. that is horribly harsh I know but Sarah Jones a few years ago still on my mind and now this poor soul RIP.. There is a price to pay for Runnaway Productions, lack of Union strength, Safety on Sets issues, Low Pay Crews and unfamiliar Locations.

    • KB says:

      @JE What happened to Sarah Jones was due to irresponsibility. What happened to John was an accident. There’s a big difference. In Sarah’s case they didn’t get clearance and the used a busy railroad track. They assumed that they would hear the train ahead of time, and clear off before it rolled by. But they didn’t. With John, I’ve heard of a similar stunt that went wrong, and resulted in the same way. Besides you can’t just blame it on Georgia. When they were filming The Invasion, with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, they had a terrible accident on set. But it wasn’t the location’s fault. Being a stunt professional is a dangerous job. It just happens. Sometimes you can be the best there is, but all it takes is one minor thing to happen, and the result is often tragedy (usually either severe injury or death).

    • Eric Trump says:

      That’s a pretty big stretch dude. Hollywood has been shooting in unfamiliar locations for a century and this show was in it’s 8th season. Shit happens.

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