“John was a stunt performer. You’ve probably seen his work before, you just didn’t know it. He’s been in everything from Looper, to This Is the End, to Hunger Games,22 Jump Street to Get Out to Logan. He did some work on Black Panther and he’s going to be on our show,” executive producer Scott Gimple opened the Walking Dead panel.
“John passed away this week after he was injured doing something he loved, helping tell stories that excite, entertain and give people escape,” Gimple continued, as he read a statement onstage. “He helped make movies and shows for people like everybody in this room. John was someone who was beloved in the stunt community, someone who trained other people and he was living the dream and he helped other people do the same thing.”
“We didn’t really know if we should do this panel today, but we wanted to be here for you and we wanted to tell you about and show you what we’ve been working on,” he said, before throwing to the premiere of the season eight trailer
and immediately going to fan questions.
Bernecker died earlier this month after filming for the upcoming eighth season of the AMC zombie drama, due to blunt force trauma caused by injuries from a fall that reportedly occurred while he was on set Wednesday, July 12.
Bernecker reportedly suffered head trauma after falling more than 20 feet onto a concrete floor, Variety reported. The stuntman had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital and died soon after he was admitted.
Walking Dead cast members, including Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jordan Woods-Robinson and Ann Mahoney, paid tribute to Bernecker on Twitter following his death.
"Deep sorrow today, and for every tomorrow,” Morgan wrote in an emotional post. "Love, respect, and condolences to John’s family, and friends. He will be forever missed."
Gimple shared his condolences in a statement released by AMC. "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."
"It's horrible. I think everyone tries everything they can to make it as safe as humanly possible, and I think [Bernecker's death] only reaffirms the need to do that," Michael William Freeman shared.
"The stuntmen and women are an integral part of the family, especially on our show," star Sam Underwood added. "They are in it with us. We would want to support them the same way we would look after anyone else in the family." Check out the video below to hear more.