The stuntman seriously injured on the set of AMC hit “The Walking Dead” has been declared brain dead.
John Bernecker had been seriously injured in a fall and was taken by medical helicopter to the hospital.
“They were doing a stunt and something went wrong,” Coweta County Coroner Richard Hawk told the AJC. “He was flown to Atlanta Medical Center where he was pronounced brain dead July 12 at (6:30 p.m.).”
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays the villain Negan on “The Walking Dead,” has been among those posting messages in tribute:
Hawk didn’t have further details about the circumstances that led to the accident.
TMZ reported that Bernecker was attempting a stunt that called for him to fall more than 20 feet, and missed a safety cushion, but there aren’t a lot of details yet.
“John Bernecker died when a planned fall on the set of ‘The Walking Dead’ went horribly wrong, but there are conflicting accounts as to who, if anyone, is to blame,” the report noted.
Hawk was not sure if the family elected to continue life support efforts for any reason, such as the possibility of organ donation. No official statement has been released by family members or AMC. Regardless, Bernecker’s official time of death will be recorded as 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Hawk said.
Bernecker had a long and impressive list of film credits. His work included locally filmed Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther,” due out next year, and “Rampage,” which just wrapped. Production temporarily halted on “Rampage” when another stuntman, Dave Macomber, was injured.
Friends, loved ones and industry figures have been flooding social media accounts with words of grief and tribute. “Transformers” series executive producer Michael Bay posted this somber message:
Bernecker’s girlfriend, Jennifer Cocker, posted a message of anguish while he remained hospitalized.
“John deserves to be seen by every neurosurgeon and doctor there is until one of them sees the life we all know he has in him and bring him back to us… THIS ISN’T FAIR.”
Other messages of support came from those who have worked with Bernecker:
The tragedy happened to coincide with the latest legal action stemming from a fatal accident on the set of “Midnight Rider.” Crew member Sarah Jones, 27, died when a train came hurtling down the track where the film crew was setting up for a scene. The production did not have permission to film on the train trestle outside Jesup.
Director Randall Miller reached a plea deal that avoided a trial and absolved his wife and business partner, Jody Savin. In pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing, Miller received a sentence of two yeas in jail and eight on probation, in addition to a $20,000 fine.
Jones’ parents Richard and Elizabeth settled a lawsuit filed against numerous plaintiffs involved with the case but CSX, which owns the tracks where the unauthorized production work was taking place, is mounting a defense.
In his testimony on Thursday, Richard Jones acknowledged that the crew was trespassing but said CSX should have taken action to prevent the fatal wreck, Deadline reported.