'The Walking Dead' Cast Pays Tribute to Stuntman John Bernecker as Investigation Into His Death Launches
By Elisa Osegueda
The Walking Dead cast is mourning the death of their beloved friend, John Bernecker.
Bernecker, who was a stuntman on the show, died on Wednesday after succumbing to his injuries from a fall on set. According to the Coweta County Coroner’s Office, his cause of death was blunt force trauma. He was 33.
Ann Mahoney, who exited the show in its seventh season, also took to social media, writing, "Much sadness about #nola actor #JohnBernecker today. Sending peace to his family. Pray for them please."
Bernecker reportedly suffered head injuries after falling over 20 feet onto a concrete floor, but apparently missed the safety cushion “by inches,” according to TMZ.
"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 told ET in a statement on Thursday, prior to news of the stuntman's death. "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."
ET has learned that OSHA launched an investigation on Friday into the death of Bernecker, which is believed to be the first stunt-related death in the United States in more than 17 years.
According to Michael D’Aquino, a spokesman for the OSHA regional office in Atlanta, Georgia, the OSH Act requires the agency to complete its investigation within six months, but “that doesn’t necessarily mean it will take that long.”
Variety also reported that SAG-AFTRA is investigating the incident.
“We have been informed of a serious injury to a SAG-AFTRA member on the set of The Walking Dead and are investigating the situation,” a union spokesperson said. “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. Our thoughts and prayers are with the performer and his family."
Bernecker had a prolific career as a stuntman, which included working on films such as 22 Jump Street, The Fate of the Furious, This Is The End, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, Get Out, Logan, as well as the upcoming Marvel movie, Black Panther.
Additionally, Bernecker's IMDb page had him listed as performing stunt work on Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's upcoming movie, Rampage, which is still in production.
Additional reporting by Rande Iaboni and Brendon Geoffrion.