“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.”
We don’t often realize what it takes for our stunt performers to give us the face paced action we love, and even demand, in today’s entertainment. On the set of the Walking Dead at the Raleigh Studios location where the AMC show was being shot, our own stuntman and actor, John Bernecker, was seriously injured. We were told that John was performing a 22 foot stunt fall over the railing of a balcony, but missed the pads. He knew he didn’t have good separation from the balcony and it appeared he attempted to abort the fall by grabbing onto the railing with both hands. His momentum, however, catapulted him into the bottom of the balcony, causing his hold to release. According to second assistant director Matthew Goodwin, John fell inches away from the pad. What was to be a routine fall turned deadly. John was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center but was declared brain-dead — legally dead — at 6:30 p.m. on July 12, 2017. The events surrounding John Bernecker’s death are under investigation.
Samantha and Kevin Gandy, President and Founders of KSS Productions shared on Facebook the truth we all know, “On behalf of our producers, directors, and our production company, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to John’s family and to Jennifer (Cocker). As everyone knows stuntman and stuntwomen are the very heart of our industry. They are the ones who really create the magic that makes audiences everywhere feel as if they can soar to the highest limits possible. To our friends within the unions and SAG-AFTRA members in Atlanta, The Walking Dead crew and cast, we offer our deepest and most heartfelt condolences. We mourn for and with you.
John Bernecker has performed or coordinated stunts on numerous projects such as Olympus Has Fallen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay parts 1 and 2, and Logan (2017), Fantastic Four (2015) The Fate of the Furious (2017) among many others. He also worked on upcoming films like Marvel’s Black Panther (2018) and Dwayne Johnson’s Rampage (2018), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, (2016).
He also contributed to the television series The Vampire Diaries (2011), Salem (2014), The Astronaut Wives Club (2015), Scream Queens (2015), Into the Badlands (2015), The Magicians, 24: Legacy and Claws (2015).
John Bernecker was featured in a 2014 episode of the web series Behind the Stunts where he has the stunt reel.
John was part of Prodigy Stunts made up of fellow professional stuntmen from New Orleans.
John Bernecker was born on March 2, 1984 in Atlanta, Georgia anddied on July 13, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. He will never be forgotten as his light will continue to shine in the hearts of all who knew and worked with him. RIP, John.
People are invited to join a candlelight vigil honoring Stuntman John Bernecker on Sunday, July 16, 2017 from 8:00pm to 10:00pm on Main Street Senoia (Woodbury). Candles will be lit upon sundown (around 9pm). The TWD Walkers and The Woodbury Shoppe will be providing over 200 vigil candles for those who are unable to bring their own. Local vocalist Erin Walton will be leading us in song. Kevin Porter will be providing a sound system and microphone for anyone who would like to share a story or lead a prayer. Get more info on Facebook.