Susan Sherlock Bernecker, whose son John Bernecker died after an attempted stunt on the metro Atlanta set of “The Walking Dead” went horribly wrong, has retained the lawyer who secured an $11.2 million verdict in the wrongful death suit filed by film crew member Sarah Jones’ parents. A legal filing is expected in the coming weeks.
Bernecker was attempting a fall when he missed a safety cushion. He was flown by medical helicopter to Atlanta Medical Center, where he was pronounced brain-dead on July 12; his family released a statement July 14 saying his organs had been donated.
His death coincidentally happened days before a Savannah jury returned an $11.2 million verdict in the wrongful death civil suit filed after camera assistant Sarah Jones died on the Georgia set of “Midnight Rider.”
“A movie set is like a big factory, except in a factory you have the same people doing the same jobs,” Harris Lowry Manton attorney Jeff Harris, who represented Sarah’s parents Richard and Elizabeth Jones, said at the time. “A movie set is like taking a big factory that has things going on that are dangerous and moving it around and then doing things that might be dangerous, like blowing stuff up.”
Harris also has filed a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a 2015 incident on the Conyers set of “Sleepy Hollow.”
Bernecker’s funeral was held in his native New Orleans.
“John’s extraordinary athletic ability and charismatic personality were a perfect match for his dream job as a stunt performer in movies and television,” the family’s obit reads. “His success was quick. As a stuntman and coordinator, he performed in over 90 feature films and television shows.
“John was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television Actors,” the obit continued. “He owned Prodigy Stunts LLC, which developed into his stunt family. John mentored and encouraged many up and coming stuntmen and women to follow their dreams. His loving nature, constant smile, and wonderful sense of humor made him a friend to everyone he met and worked with.”
Bernecker attended St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis Xavier, Holy Cross High School and graduated from Montverde Academy, his obit says. He attended the University of New Orleans and Southeastern University in Hammond.
“He was kind-hearted, generous and humble. He loved life and everyone loved John. He was a loving person that helped all who came in his path,” the obit reads. “John is the bright light that showed us all the way to live – one fantastic human being. We all should live like John.”