5 of the Most Shocking Accidental Reality TV Deaths

On Oct. 21, a crew member died on the set of Rust and another injured after Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm. This isn’t the first time a tragedy has occurred on a movie set. In March 1993, a prop gun accidentally killed Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow. Not only that, but reality TV has also experienced some of the most shocking accidental deaths. 

A bearded Ryan Dunn, the 'Jackass' star whose death was accidental, sitting on the set of MTV's TRL
Ryan Dunn | Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

‘The Bachelorette’ star Eric Hill’s paragliding accident 

Eric Hill starred in Andi Dorfman’s season of The Bachelorette. But on Apr. 23, 2014, the reality star died from injuries he incurred from a paragliding accident. According to Time, Hill was on a journey to see every country, posting about his trips on Instagram while collecting footage for a documentary. 

Hill’s accident took place after filming for Dorfman’s season wrapped but before the season aired. After much debate, producers left Hill in the show and had former host Chris Harrison pay homage to him before the season began.

 ‘Jackass’ star Ryan Dunn’s tragic car accident 

One of the most notable accidental reality star deaths is that of Jackass Ryan Dunn. He and passenger Zachary Hartwell were killed in a car accident in June 2011.

After examining the crash scene, authorities estimate Dunn’s Porsche was traveling at 100 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone (via The Guardian). The car jumped a guard rail and crashed into a tree before bursting into flames. Dunn had allegedly been drinking before the crash but “didn’t appear drunk,” according to the bar manager (via The Philadelphia Inquirer). 

Steve Irwin ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ dies after getting stabbed by a stingray

The Australian zookeeper died on Sept. 4, 2006 after being pierced in the chest by a stingray barb. At the time, Irwin was in Queensland’s Batt Reef filming a documentary called Ocean’s Deadliest. Cameraman Justin Lyons was with Irwin when the stingray struck him. 

“It probably thought Steve’s shadow was a tiger shark who feeds on them pretty regularly, so it started to attack him,” Lyons told Studio 10. “We had this rule that if Steve was ever hurt or injured, that we had to keep filming no matter what.”

But after seeing Irwin standing “in a huge pool of blood,” Lyons knew something was wrong. The damage to Irwin’s heart was extreme, and as Lyons remembers, his last words were: “I’m dying.” 

Shain Gandee from MTV’s ‘Buckwild’ died from carbon monoxide poisoning

In 2013, MTV aired the reality series Buckwild, which followed a group of childhood friends from West Virginia who live by their own rules. Though the MTV show was short-lived, many fans enjoyed Shain Gandee. 

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In April 2013, just a few months after Buckwild’s release, Gandee’s friends found him, his uncle, David Dwight Gandee, and Donald Robert Myers dead in Gandee’s Ford Bronco. Authorities said their deaths were accidental and the result of carbon monoxide poisoning (via USA Today). 

Gerald Babin’s accidental death while filming for ‘Survivor France’

Perhaps one of the strangest accidental reality TV deaths is Gerald Babin’s. He died while filming Koh-Lanta, the French version of Survivorin Cambodia. Babin was said to be dehydrated after collapsing in the sand and complaining of cramps.

Ultimately, producers took him to a hospital. There, they discovered he had suffered multiple cardiac arrests in transport.  

Babin’s autopsy denotes his cause of death as “heart failure in dilated cardiomyopathy” (via The Hollywood Reporter). After claims of producers delaying Babin’s treatment because of filming, authorities opened a criminal investigation for manslaughter.