Thirty-three-year-old Stuntman John Bernecker died Thursday after falling from a 22-foot high balcony, a day before while rehearsing a fight sequence on the sets of the hit television show “The Walking Dead.” He is reported to have landed on hard concrete, missing the safety mat by inches, which was in place to cushion the fall.
He was being treated at the Atlanta Medical Center for serious head injuries and was placed on a ventilator, which was turned off Thursday evening with the consent of family members after he was pronounced brain dead.
“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 in a statement on Thursday. “He was immediately transported to an Atlanta hospital and we have temporarily shut down production.”
Bernecker’s stuntwoman girlfriend since 2014, Jennifer Cocker, who in a July 12 update on the stuntman’s condition had said 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” is yet to issue a public statement after his death.
Meanwhile, Breckner’s near and dear ones have apparently given their consent to donate his organs as confirmed by a statement posted by The LifeLink Foundation.
“Although devastated by their loss, John’s loved ones have ensured his legacy will live on, not only through the personal and professional contributions he made during his life but also by their generous decision to allow John to save lives as an organ donor,” said the statement.
“John Bernecker’s family has decided that he will be removed from life support, following organ donation,” AMC said. “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.”
Separate investigations into the incident have been initiated by the Atlanta office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and SAG-AFTRA which has also pledged full cooperation with the investigating authorities.
SAG-AFTRA or the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is a U.S. labor union representing over 150,000 film and television performers, journalists, recording artists, and radio personalities worldwide.
In a Friday statement released after confirmation of death by Bernecker’s family, SAG-AFTRA said:
“SAG-AFTRA offers its deepest condolences to the friends and family of John Bernecker, an accomplished stunt performer who passed away after a fall on the set of ‘The Walking Dead’ in Georgia. This tragic and untimely loss of a member of the SAG-AFTRA family is heartbreaking, and our thoughts are with his loved ones and his friends and colleagues in the Georgia production community.”
“The safety of our members is paramount. We will work with the authorities and closely monitor their investigations into this tragic incident.”
An accomplished stuntman and fight choreographer skilled in combat and firearms, Bernecker’s Resume boasts projects such as:
- “The Hunger Games” series
- “Olympus Has Fallen”
- “The Last Witch Hunter”
- “True Detective” (appeared in a single episode of the inaugural season)
- “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”
- “Looper “
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
His upcoming films include “Rampage” starring Dwayne Johnson and Marvel’s “Black Panther.”
For more on John Bernecker, you can access his IMDb page here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2928855/
Here’s how fellow performers, actors and others from the entertainment fraternity have condoled the sad and untimely passing away of the talented and aspiring young professional.
I have no words. My heart is absolutely broken for John Bernecker. Please send prayers to his family and friends.
— Austin Amelio (@austin_amelio) July 14, 2017
— Ross Marquand (@RossMarquand) July 14, 2017
Thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of John Bernecker. So sad to lose him. He was so nice, so cool and great at his job.
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) July 14, 2017
❤️ love and prayers to Johns family and friends today. You will be missed. https://t.co/gTtkpRi22m
— norman reedus (@wwwbigbaldhead) July 14, 2017
No words can express my sadness for John Bernecker and his family. Thank you all for having them in your thoughts and prayers also.
— Lauren Cohan (@LaurenCohan) July 14, 2017
— Sabrina Gennarino (@girlsgottaeat) July 14, 2017
My deepest condolences go to the family and friends of stuntman John Bernecker. He was a kind person and an incredible talent.
— John Francis Daley (@JohnFDaley) July 14, 2017
RIP John Bernecker!