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.
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.”