NEW ORLEANS -- The film industry lost one of its finest this week when a stuntman with roots in Metairie fell to his death on set.

John Bernecker, 33, died from injuries he suffered on the set of the hit series "The Walking Dead" that was being filmed just south of Atlanta.

"These kinds of things are tragic. I think I read that the last stuntman death was about 19 years ago on set," said Actress Ann Mahoney who is a cast member on "The Walking Dead." "He was a really beautiful, young man."

Mahoney also remembers John Bernecker's work ethic.

"He was just very kind and meticulous -- hard working and I think that's the best stuntmen. And most of them are that way. They're very meticulous. They're very careful," she said.

John was about to perform a stunt, falling 22 feet from a balcony on to a safety cushion below. According to TMZ, his head slammed on the bottom of the balcony and then he landed on his head and neck on the concrete just inches away from the cushion.

"I'm worried about his family obviously, and mostly the family, and secondly, everybody who was there when it happened. Like I can't imagine having been on set and witnessed it, Mahoney said.

"I was actually speaking to a fellow cast member from 'Walking Dead' and they're devastated you know," Mahoney said. "She's, she's like they halted production. Everybody went home. She said today is a very sad day."

The Coweta County Coroner's office says the stuntman died from head trauma and the is calling the death accidental.

Stunt performer Ryan Robertson worked with John Bernecker in movies here in New Orleans and in Georgia. He says John was a fantastic, light-hearted person who is going to be missed.

"He was a great guy. Always funny, you know ... but very super, super talented guy. Always would make you laugh. Always happy," Robertson remembered.

In Ann's experience, "The Walking Dead" set is safe. She says the guns used as props, were checked and rechecked in-between every take to make sure no bullets are in the chambers.

"Certainly AMC and 'Walking Dead' are, they're the best show on television, and they get the best people and John was one of the best," Mahoney said.
John Bernecker also worked on many movie sets including three of the Hunger Games films.

As a teen, he was a student at Holy Cross in the 6th through 9th grades from 1996 to 2000.