Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lauren Cohan and Norman Reedus send their condolences after John Bernecker died following a fall on the set of the AMC series.
"The Walking Dead" stuntman John Bernecker died after a tragic accident on the set in Atlanta, Georgia. He became brain-dead on July 12 at 6:30 P.M. and a ventilator was withdrawn overnight on July 13-14. He passed away from injuries sustained in a fall and the cause of death is blunt force. Coweta County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death as accidental.
Following Bernecker's passing, tribute has poured in from "The Walking Dead" family. Jeffrey Dean Morgan tweeted, "Deep sorrow today, and for every tomorrow. Love, respect, and condolences to johns family, and friends. He will be forever missed."
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
Lauren Cohan, who previously asked fans to keep Bernecker in prayers, also mourned the death, "No words can express my sadness for John Bernecker and his family. Thank you all for having them in your thoughts and prayers also."
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
Norman Reedus added, "love and prayers to Johns family and friends today. You will be missed."
❤️ love and prayers to Johns family and friends today. You will be missed. https://t.co/gTtkpRi22m— norman reedus (@wwwbigbaldhead) July 14, 2017
Bernecker suffered a serious head injury and was airlifted to an Atlanta hospital after he fell more than 20 feet onto a concrete floor on Wednesday.
According to Georgia's Coweta County Sheriff's Office report, he was supposed to perform a stunt fall at about 1:11 P.M. from a balcony over a railing approximately 22 feet in the air onto a pad made of a layer of 22-inch boxes, PORTaPIT pads and a large pad.
In the report, actor Austin Amelio said that Bernecker told him he had done "a few" high fall stunts before, but "never this high up." Amelio, who was the only other person on the balcony, also stated that Bernecker "seemed a little nervous."
When Bernecker gave a thumbs-up to signal he was ready, the crew began filming. Assistant director Matthew Goodwin told cops that Bernecker did not appear to get good separation from the balcony. He appeared to attempt to abort the fall by grabbing onto the railing with both hands, but his momentum slammed him into the bottom of the balcony, causing him to release his hold. He missed the cushion "just by inches," Goodwin said.
John's girlfriend Jennifer Cocker, who is a stuntwoman herself but was not on set, was upset with the production. She tells TMZ, "Sets need to be safer. There has to be a prerequisite not to put a super professional stuntman with an inexperienced actor who doesn't know what he's doing." Other stunt people, however, say there was a very experienced and respected stunt coordinator for the scene and it was completely safe.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and SAG-AFTRA are currently investigating the incident.