More details have emerged about the on-set accident that claimed the life of a stuntman for the popular TV show, “The Walking Dead.” Investigators looking into last week’s incident will have a tool not usually available in occupational fatality inquiries: film footage of the event.
According to news reports, 33-year-old John Bernecker was supposed to perform a stunt fall from a balcony over a railing at the Atlanta-area location where the AMC show is filmed. Bernecker missed by mere inches the material that was supposed to protect him that consisted of 22-inch boxes, and PORTaPIT pads (a jump landing system also used in sporting events).
Witnesses said when the jump over the railing appeared to go awry, Bernecker – an experienced stunt man and fight choreographer – attempted to grab the railing with both hands, but his momentum carried him downward. He fell approximately 22 feet onto a concrete floor, sustaining massive head injuries.
A set medic rendered immediate first aid. Bernecker was airlifted to an Atlanta hospital, where he was declared brain dead.
AMC temporarily halted production of the series, which follows the struggles of survivors of a zombie apocalypse.
OSHA and SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents stunt performers, have launched separate investigations into the accident.
It's believed to be the first stunt-related death in the United States in more than 17 years.