The motion picture company behind the TV show “The Walking Dead” has been cited and fined for a fatal fall that occurred on the Senoia, Georgia set last year.
Stuntman John Bernecker died on July 12 of blunt force trauma to the head after plunging headfirst from a balcony to a concrete floor 22 feet below. Bernecker and an actor were rehearsing a fight scene that was supposed to end with a routine fall from a balcony, but he lost his footing and fell, attempting - but failing - to grab the balcony.
OSHA has cited Stalwart Films LLC for failing to protect employees from fall hazards -- a serious citation with proposed penalties of $12,675.
The 33-year-old Bernecker was an experienced stuntman. Entertainment industry stunt experts have described the fall as one that should have been simple to do.
The fatality was the first stunt-related death in the U.S. in more than 17 years. Production on the zombie apocalypse series was temporarily halted after the incident.
“This tragedy should serve as a wake-up call for the entertainment industry,” said OSHA Atlanta Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer. “The entire industry needs to commit to safety practices for actors and stunt people involved in this type of work.”