Attorneys Argue ‘Walking Dead’ Stuntman’s Death Was a Result of His Mistake During 22-Foot Fall Scene

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The wrongful death trial of “Walking Dead” stuntman John Bernecker started Tuesday in Georgia, with AMC Networks’ attorneys arguing that his tragic death was a result of his mistake.

Bernecker, who was 33, died in 2017 from injuries sustained while filming a scene for the series’ eighth season. A trial started Tuesday in Gwinnett County, Georgia, where the show is based, after his mother Susan Bernecker brought a wrongful death suit against the cable network last year. It is expected to last 10 days.

While film- and TV-related deaths have declined over the last two decades, thanks to new safety provisions and the use of digital effects to replace physical stunts, there have been a series of high-profile deaths and injuries on sets in recent years. Sarah Jones was killed in Georgia in a 2014 train accident during the making of “Midnight Rider,” and her family was awarded $11.2 million after filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Two crew members of the Tom Cruise movie “American Made” died in a plane crash during production in Colombia in 2015. And in 2018, stuntwoman Joi “S.J.” Harris died after performing a motorcycle stunt for the superhero sequel “Deadpool 2” in Vancouver, Canada.

Bernecker died after performing a 22-foot fall off a balcony, landing on a part of the ground that wasn’t padded or protected. Bernecker’s death, from blunt force trauma, was ruled accidental by a coroner. The suit alleged that there was no ambulance on site and that it took 30 minutes from the time of the fall until he was evacuated by helicopter for medical treatment.

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