Carrie Bernans, a stuntwoman and actress known for her work in Marvel’s “Black Panther” and other films, was critically injured early New Year’s Day when a Mercedes-Benz struck her and several other pedestrians in New York City’s Times Square area.
Chaotic Scene Unfolds on 34th Street
Just after midnight on January 1st, 2024, a chaotic scene erupted on 34th Street and 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan. According to police reports, officers initially attempted to pull over a black Mercedes-Benz sedan driving erratically. However, the driver – later identified as 44-year-old John Smith of New Jersey – refused to stop and sped off.
As Smith drove against traffic on 7th Avenue, he mounted the sidewalk and plowed into a crowd of revelers leaving a New Year’s Eve celebration. The out-of-control Mercedes crashed into the Minskoff Theater marquee before coming to rest halfway inside a food truck, pinning multiple people underneath.
In total, eight pedestrians suffered injuries, along with two NYPD officers. Among the victims was stuntwoman Carrie Bernans, who was rushed to the hospital in critical condition after being trapped beneath the vehicle for over 30 minutes.
|Struck by vehicle on sidewalk
|2 NYPD officers
|Injured while attempting to stop driver
|Pinned under Mercedes, critical injuries
Marvel Performer Sustains Severe Trauma
Bernans, 34, is a SAG-AFTRA stunt performer and actress best known for doubling for Lupita Nyong’o’s character Nakia in Marvel’s 2018 blockbuster “Black Panther.” She suffered extensive injuries in the New Year’s Day collision, including broken bones, internal bleeding, and facial trauma.
The performer’s family released graphic hospital images showing Bernans unconscious and intubated, with severe facial cuts and swelling. Doctors have characterized her condition as critical.
In addition to her work on “Black Panther,” Bernans’ credits include acting and stunt roles in major films such as “The Color Purple,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” “Hunger Games,” and the upcoming “Black Panther 2.” She is highly regarded as one of the top Black female stunt performers in the industry.
Mercedes Driver Arrested, Drugs Found in Vehicle
Meanwhile, the driver who triggered the terrifying hit-and-run incident is in police custody.
John Smith, 44, was arrested on scene and transported to Bellevue Hospital for evaluation. He faces multiple charges for reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, driving while impaired, and more.
A search of Smith’s vehicle revealed a large quantity of crack cocaine. Investigators believe Smith was under the influence and attempting to evade police when he sped onto the busy sidewalk. His motives remain under investigation as police try to piece together the harrowing crime.
Times Square Horror Sparks Outrage
The brazen daytime attack on New Year’s revelers has rattled New Yorkers and made national headlines.
Footage surfacing online shows the speeding Mercedes blowing through intersections, hitting pedestrians, and crashing into the Minskoff Theater where Disney’s long-running musical The Lion King is performed.
The videos end with the Mercedes halfway inside a mangled food truck, aftertesters screaming in horror at the chaotic scene. The images have provoked outrage on social media as well as calls for improved traffic safety measures.
Bernans Faces Lengthy Recovery, Production Delays
While the other victims suffered less serious injuries, Carrie Bernans faces significant trauma and a lengthy recovery.
Doctors have kept the performer sedated and on a ventilator due to the severity of her wounds. There is no official word yet on whether she will make a full recovery or what lasting impacts she may sustain.
In the meantime, Bernans’ injury has also disrupted a major Hollywood production. She was set to reprise her work doubling for Lupita Nyong’o on the “Black Panther” sequel “Wakanda Forever,” currently filming in Atlanta.
The production has ground to a halt while director Ryan Coogler and castmates hope for Bernan’s quick healing. Yet her extensive injuries may require significant rewrites and recasting roles intended for the seasoned stuntwoman.
The incident has rocked the entertainment industry, where Bernans is beloved for breaking barriers as a top Black female stunt performer. Filmmakers must now scramble to finish production on the highly anticipated Marvel sequel as she recovers.
The state of Bernan’s health – as well as the fate of Black Panther 2 – hangs in the delicate balance.
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