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OSHA & SAG-AFTRA Launches Investigation Into ‘Walking Dead’ Stuntman’s Death

Coweta County Coroner, Richard Hawk, confirmed that stuntman John Bernecker from the hit series ‘The Walking Dead’ died this Wednesday from blunt force trauma.

Official reports state that Bernecker sustained massive head injuries on Wednesday, July 12, when he fell 30 feet to a concrete floor during the production of AMC’s popular zombie-apocalypse series. Eyewitnesses say Bernecker lost his footing while performing the end of a fight scene that involved a routine fall from a balcony. He was later pronounced brain-dead at Atlanta Medical Center, where sources say he was put on life support while his family made arrangements. His death is believed to be the first stunt-related death in the United States since the late 90’s.

The federal workplace monitor OSHA and SAG-AFTRA has now launched an investigation into the accident. A spokesman for the regional OSHA office in Atlanta says the Occupation Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires the agency to complete an investigation within six months. Veteran stuntman Conrad Palmisano, a member of the SAG-AFTRA stunt and safety committee, released the following statement:

“Stunt work has always been dangerous, but less so now than ever before. Generally, it’s safer now than it was 20 years ago, and I anticipate it being safer 20 years from now than it was today. But it’s still a dangerous business.” During his talk with Deadline, Palmisano also stated, “We work very hard to create stunts in the safest possible manner. When we as a stunt community examine what happened, we look to fix the problem, not to affix the blame.”

IMDb has a list of more than 90 stunt credits for Bernecker. These credits include recent box office hits like The Fate of the Furious, Black Panther, Get Out, Logan, Get Hard, Goosebumps and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. 

It’s important to note that an individual doesn’t have to be a stuntman for this sort of accident to occur. Anyone in any given occupation, from office administrators to construction workers, can find themselves dealing with the aftermath of a life-altering accident that took place on the job. These type of unexpected accidents often result in serious and permanent personal injuries or even wrongful death. It will be interesting to see what OSHA and SAG-AFTRA officially report as the cause of this tragic accident once their investigation is complete.

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Seth Bader
(678) 562-5595