Deceased 'The Walking Dead' Stuntman's Mother Speaks Out on Safety Problems Cover-Up in Hollywood

Stuntman John Bernecker was fatally injured when a stunt went wrong last July on the set of The [...]

Stuntman John Bernecker was fatally injured when a stunt went wrong last July on the set of The Walking Dead, with his mother Susan Bernecker claiming this was merely one example of a larger problem plaguing Hollywood. Bernecker considers the lack of safety regulations on various sets is so severe, in fact, that she equates it to being as big an issue as the recent string of sexual harassment and assault allegations that have surfaced.

"If you take out the word 'sex' and put in 'safety,' it's the same thing," Bernecker told Deadline. "This is parallel in my mind. There are the same pressures and the same risks. People are afraid to speak out because they're afraid they'll never work again or that they'll be looked down upon."

Bernecker pointed out that the problem is even more dangerous for stuntwomen, as they fall victim to both safety concerns and sexual harassment and assault.

"Stuntwomen have told me about being put in sexual harassment positions to get a job," Bernecker shared. "I had two girls tell me about that in the last year."

More than just a profession, Bernecker explained how deep the connections between members of the industry run.

"I'm friends with 50 or 60 stunt people," Bernecker noted. "They're like my adopted children, and I heard this all the time."

The organization OSHA is responsible for ensuring the safety of employees in a variety of workplace conditions. Following Bernecker's death, OSHA issued the production a citation in the amount of $12,675.

"I think it's ridiculous," Bernecker said of the citation. "I mean, they spend that much on food for the crew for two days. If this was half a million dollars, it would get their attention. But $12,000 isn't going to get anyone's attention."

While the amount of money can't make up for the loss of life, the citation amount is the maximum that the organization can penalize the production.

"He was almost apologetic," Bernecker confessed of her interaction with an OSHA representative. "I think he was embarrassed. He said, 'I don't want you to be in shock,because the fine does not equate the loss.'"

Bernecker's passing is far from an isolated incident in the world of Hollywood, as Deadpool 2 briefly halted production when Joi Harris passed away due to injuries suffered on set.

"He walked away from two jobs," Bernecker said of her son's commitment to safety protocols. "He'd say, 'Mom, they won't put the money in the budget to protect my guys.' And he walked away. He said, 'If you can't protect my people, I'm not going to do it.' And that's what kills me. He always had everybody's back."

The stuntman has six projects being released later this year.

"This should not have happened," Bernecker admitted. "This was not the kind of stunt you should be killed on. He did this same stunt (a fall from a balcony) two months earlier in South Carolina. So I'm going to try to change things. My niece is a stunt woman, and I feel a duty to find out what happened, and to do what John would have done, to make it safer for everybody. Because the industry isn't doing it. Somebody's got to get the ball rolling, so I guess I was picked."

You can learn more about the stuntman by visiting his official site.

[H/T Deadline]