Being a stunt double is an incredibly dangerous job that often can cause serious injuries. John Bernecker, a stuntman who worked on NUMEROUS projects including The Vampire Diaries, The 5th Wave, The Hunger Games and Goosebumps, tragically passed away at 6:30 PM ET on Wednesday after losing his footing while rehearsing a scene on The Walking Dead and falling 30 feet to the concrete below.
Coweta County Coroner Richard Hawk confirmed to Deadline that the 33-year-old man died of blunt-force trauma. A separate hospital source told the website that his family turned off the ventilator he was put on upon arrival on Thursday.
“We are saddened to report that John Bernecker, a talented stuntman for The Walking Dead and numerous other television shows and films, suffered serious injuries from a tragic accident on set,” AMC said in a statement on July 12 before his death. “He was immediately transported to an Atlanta hospital, and we have temporarily shut down production. We are keeping John and his family in our thoughts and prayers.”
Jennifer Cocker, the deceased man’s girlfriend, posted about her boyfriend’s injuries on Facebook shortly after the fall. She wrote, “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.”
Actors like Kellan Lutz, Gary Weeks, Lauren Cohan and Gina Carano remembered the man who worked with them on various projects on social media.
#JohnBernecker was one of the best most talented stuntmen I have ever been blessed to work with. Praying for his family and loved ones!
— Kellan Lutz (@kellanlutz) July 14, 2017
Was literally just joking around with #JohnBernecker on set a few weeks ago. Can't believe it. We lost such a great person & performer.
— Gary Weeks (@GaryWeeks) July 14, 2017
Dear Walking Dead Family, please keep John Bernecker, our stuntman and his family in your prayers today.
— Lauren Cohan (@LaurenCohan) July 13, 2017
— Laura Cayouette (@KnowSmallParts) July 13, 2017
John Bernecker doubled me this season for a spectacular stunt on Turn S4. He was a beautiful, positive, meticulous professional who made…
— samuel roukin (@samuelroukin) July 14, 2017
Can't stop thinking about John Bernecker. All of my love and hopes for solace goes out to his loved ones and our community.
— JordanWoods-Robinson (@jwoodsrobinson) July 14, 2017
— Gina Carano (@ginacarano) July 14, 2017
Our thoughts are with John’s family, friends and colleagues at this incredibly difficult time.
7 celebrity stunt doubles who got tragically hurt on movie sets:
Chloe Grace Moretz's Kick-Ass 2 Stunt Double
While filming the 2013 action movie, Chloe Grace's stunt double cracked her head open after being thrown against a wall. "They used a hydraulic system and they did it too much and it just pulled her an inch too far and she cracked her head on a bar," Chloe said during an interview. Yikes! That's just horrific.
Photo: Universal Pictures
Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Stunt Double
Over the course of the HP films, there were plenty of special effects and stunts incorporated. While rehearsing for a flying scene, Daniel's stunt double, David Holmes, got a bit too close to a planned explosion, falling to the floor and breaking his neck. Since the accident, David has been paralyzed.
Photo: Warner Brothers
Vin Diesel's xXx Stunt Double
While filming a scene that involved parasailing, Vin's stunt double, Harry O'Connor, crashed into a bridge. Unfortunately, his injuries were so detrimental that he died shortly after the accident. To honor him, the filmmakers included his scene into the movie (minus his death).
Photo: Revolution Studios
Ed Helms' The Hangover: Part 2 Stunt Double
Sure, the Hangover movies were hysterical, but did you know that a person got severely injured on set? Ed Helms' stunt double, Scott McLean, ended up in critical condition while filming a scene in a speeding car.
In the scene, Scott was supposed to stick his head out of the window, as the car was moving. Unfortunately, the stunt went terribly wrong, and his head collided with another moving vehicle. The result was a gash on the right side of his head, plus skin torn from his skull. He was also put in a medically-induced coma and sued Warner Bros. for the stunt-gone-wrong.
Photo: Warner Brothers
Bruce Willis' Live Free or Die Hard Stunt Double
If you've seen this movie, then you know that a lot of stunts are involved in the production. While the stunts look great in the movie, things didn't always go smoothly behind the scenes. Bruce's stunt double, Larry Rippenkroeger, fell 25 feet from a fire escape and landed on the pavement. As you can probably imagine, Larry's injuries were serious. He suffered broken bones in his ribs and face, fractures in his wrists and a damaged lung.
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox
Milla Jovovich's Resident Evil: The Final Chapter Stunt Double
The Resident Evil movies required plenty of stunts, but one stunt went terribly wrong last year. While shooting for the final movie in the franchise, Milla's stunt double, Olivia Jackson (who has also performed stunts for Star Wars), got so badly injured that she was put into a medically-induced coma.
While filming a high-speed motorcycle chase scene, Olivia smashed into a piece of camera equipment. Her injuries included several broken bones, brain swelling, torn fingers, and a paralyzed arm. As if that wasn't awful enough, she also had to get her arm amputated.
Photo: Constantin Films
Gemma Arterton's Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
While filming the 2013 flick, Gemma Arterton's stunt double suffered a serious injury after a stunt went wrong. During one scene, Gemma's character was supposed to get thrown through a wall and down several floors. As the stunt double got to work, a rusty nail actually got lodged in her head, right behind her ear. We're cringing just at the thought of this.
Photo: Paramount Pictures