Stalwart Films, the production company behind AMC’s The Walking Dead, has received serious citations and slapped with the maximum fine possible following the death of a stuntman on the set of the show in July of last year, Variety reports.
33-year-old John Bernecker fell nearly 22 feet off a balcony while filming on set of The Walking Dead near Atlanta. The idea was for Bernecker to fall and land into a safety cushion placed below the balcony, but the incident report filled out by the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office states that he landed on his head and neck on the concrete next to the cushion. Assistant director Matthew Goodwin claims the accident occurred because Bernecker did not get a “good separation” from the balcony. An on-site medic immediately rushed to his aid, but Bernecker needed to be airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center. He was then placed on a ventilator, but his family decided to turn it off the next day.
The U.S. Department of Labor released a statement on Friday that cited Stalwart Films for “failing to protect employees from fall hazards while filming the television show, The Walking Dead.”
“OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] issued a serious citation and proposed penalties totaling the maximum allowable fine of $12,675, for the company’s failure to provide adequate protection from fall hazards,” the statement read. “OSHA investigated Stalwart’s filming location in Senoia after a stuntman was fatally injured after falling more than 20 feet.”
“This tragedy should serve as a wake-up call for the entertainment industry,” said the OSHA Atlanta Regional Administrator, Kurt Petermeyer. “The entire industry needs to commit to safety practices for actors and stunt people involved in this type of work.”
Several of the main castmembers of the show took to social media to share condolences soon after Bernecker's death was announced last summer.
Deep sorrow today, and for every tomorrow. Love, respect, and condolences to johns family, and friends. He will be forever missed.— Jeffrey Dean Morgan (@JDMorgan) July 14, 2017
Keeping John Bernecker and his family in my thoughts. #TWDFamily— Peter Luis Zimmerman (@IamPeterZ) July 14, 2017
No words can express my sadness for John Bernecker and his family. Thank you all for having them in your thoughts and prayers also.— Lauren Cohan (@LaurenCohan) July 14, 2017
Thoughts with John Bernecker's family tonight. Who will continue to be a part of our family and have all the love and support we can give.— Tom Payne (@justanactor) July 14, 2017