The cast and creators of “The Walking Dead” paid tribute to stuntman John Bernecker during their San Diego Comic-Con panel on Friday, just over one week after Bernecker died in an accident on the show’s Georgia set.
Panel moderator Chris Hardwick began the “Fear the Walking Dead” panel, which immediately preceded the “Walking Dead” panel, by asking the Hall H crowd to observe a moment of silence in Bernecker’s memory. He also said the entire cast of “The Walking Dead” debated whether or not they should even hold their annual panel, but ultimately decided to forge ahead.
Series showrunner Scott Gimple opened the show’s panel by reading a statement on Bernecker on behalf of the cast and crew.
“John passed away this week after he was injured doing something he loved: helping tell stories that excite, entertain, and give people escape,” he said. “He helped make movies and shows for people like everybody in this room. John was someone who was beloved in the stunt community, who helped train people and helped them break into the business He was living his dream, and he helped other people do the same.”
Last Wednesday, Bernecker was filming a stunt for Season 8 with series regular Austin Amelio. The stunt required him to fall approximately 22 feet off of a balcony onto a safety cushion below. But according to assistant director Matthew Goodwin, Bernecker failed to get a “good separation” from the balcony and instead landed on his head and neck on the concrete next to the safety cushion, per the incident report from the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office.
An on-site medic rendered aid immediately, and Bernecker was airlifted to an Atlanta medical center, where he was placed on a ventilator. His family opted to turn the ventilator off the following day. Many of the main cast offered their condolences to Bernecker’s family via social media shortly after he died.
AMC shut down production on Season 8 following the incident, though production resumed on July 17.