With heavy hearts, the cast of AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead has returned to work following an unexpected death on set. Although production halted last week following the tragic death of stuntman John Bernecker on July 13, AMC confirmed to Variety on Monday that filming has resumed.
Bernecker was reportedly shooting a scene last Wednesday with series regular Austin Amelio, who plays Dwight, when the accident that led to Bernecker’s death occurred.
Per the scene, the stuntman was supposed to fall roughly 20 feet off a balcony at Raleigh Studio in Atlanta and onto a safety cushion below. Unfortunately, Bernecker didn’t get “a good separation” from the balcony, assistant director Matthew Goodwin told the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office.
Bernecker apparently tried to abort the jump upon realizing this, grabbing the balcony with both hands. However, he quickly lost his grip and fell. According to the incident report, he missed the safety cushion by “just inches.”
After receiving medical attention on site, the 33-year-old was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center and placed on a ventilator.
Said TWD showrunner Scott Gimple, “Our production is heartbroken by the tragic loss of John Bernecker. John’s work on The Walking Deadand 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.”
In the wake of Bernecker’s death, cast members also took to social media to express their sadness over the loss of such a talented and by all accounts much-loved individual.
Deep sorrow today, and for every tomorrow. Love, respect, and condolences to johns family, and friends. He will be forever missed.
— Jeffrey Dean Morgan (@JDMorgan) 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
A stunt coordinator in addition to stuntman, Bernecker’s recent work credits include 2018’s Rampage, Black Panther and Desolation. His death is speculated to be the first stunt-related death in the U.S. film industry in 17 years, reports Deadline.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and SAG-AFTRA opened investigations in the immediate aftermath of the accident, but it was ultimately ruled accidental.