COWETA COUNTY, Ga. — A stunt performer has died after a fall on the set of “The Walking Dead.”
Coweta County Coroner Richard Awk confirmed to Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach that John Bernecker, 33, died Wednesday.
The accident report said Bernecker fell 25 feet onto concrete.
Production on the AMC action-packed zombie series has been halted following the fall.
Bernecker reportedly suffered a head injury so severe, he had to be taken by helicopter to a level one trauma center in Atlanta.
The show is filmed in Georgia.
Bernecker is a veteran stuntman who has worked on productions like The Hunger Games.
Photos from the sheriff's office show the balcony two stories up Bernecker fell from and the cushion, that according to a witness, he missed by just inches.
"He fell off of a balcony, I believe he fell on his back, or head. I didn't see the impact," a witness described in a 911 call.
The police report states Bernecker gave the thumbs up, signaling he was ready.
The Assistant Director told sheriff's investigators Bernecker was supposed to go up and over the balcony's railing, but instead grabbed on with both hands, slammed into the bottom, lost grip and fell about 25 feet.
Late Friday, Bernecker's family released a statement saying his organs will be donated through the LifeLink organization.
The statement said quote:
The sheriff's office has turned the investigation over to OSHA because this is a workplace death.
The Actor's Union will also investigate.
Bernecker's passing is the first on-set death in the United States since an audio technician for the show "Cops" was killed during a shootout in Omaha, Nebraska, in August 2014. Cameraman Bryce Dion, 38, was killed at the scene of an attempted armed robbery at a fast-food restaurant by a stray bullet from an Omaha police officer.
Earlier that year, in February 2014, Sarah Jones, 27, died when a freight train slammed into a film crew shooting "Midnight Rider," a movie about the life of singer Gregg Allman. The crash happened on a Georgia railroad bridge where the crew was filming actor William Hurt in a hospital bed that was placed on the tracks even though owner CSX Transportation had denied permission to production managers.
A lawsuit filed by Jones' parents, who live in Columbia, South Carolina, is currently being tried in Chatham County State Court in Savannah. It says CSX shares equal blame with production managers, who never told Jones and other crew members they were trespassing. They say the railroad should have taken safety precautions to slow the train before the crash.
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