Last Wednesday, Bernecker was filming a scene on a balcony with Austin Amelio (who plays Dwight), when a stunt went fatally wrong.
According to Variety, the scene called for Bernecker to fall 20 feet off of a balcony onto a safety cushion. Assistant director Matthew Goodwin told the local sheriff's office that Bernecker did not appear to get "a good separation" from the balcony and tried to abort the jump by grabbing onto the balcony with both hands. Instead, he slammed into the bottom of the balcony, which made him lose his grip and fall, missing the safety cushion by "just inches." He landed on his head and neck, causing the fatal injuries.
Per Variety, an on-site medic immediately rendered aid and Bernecker was airlifted to an Atlanta medical center. He was placed on a ventilator, which was turned off on Thursday.
I have no words. My heart is absolutely broken for John Bernecker. Please send prayers to his family and friends.— Austin Amelio (@austin_amelio) 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
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
AMC and series showrunner Scott Gimple released a statement saying, "We are deeply saddened by this loss and our hearts and prayers are with John's family, friends and colleagues during this extremely difficult time."
Gimple later added, "Our production is heartbroken by the tragic loss of John Bernecker. John's work on 'The Walking Dead' and dozens of other movies and shows will continue to entertain and excite audiences for generations. We are grateful for his contributions, and all of us send our condolences, love, and prayers to John's family and friends."