This 1 Horrifying Incident on ‘Survivor’ Proves the Show May Be More Dangerous Than You Think

We remember when the very first season of Survivor aired back in 2000. For the chance at a million dollars, a group of strangers settled on an island together to do exactly as the title suggests — survive. Through challenges, rewards, and social play, the last person not to be voted off the island by their peers would then stand before them once again and plead their case as to why they deserve the million.

It’s a social experiment unlike any other, but Survivor still comes with a number of risks. We’ve seen everything from dehydration to severe injuries during challenges, and some players have even been evacuated from the game. Here are the scariest incidences, with No. 1 in particular being the worst of them all.

7. Stephenie LaGrossa dislocated her shoulder

Stephanie holds her arm in pain.

This injury caused quite a scare. | CBS

She didn’t need a medical evacuation following this injury, but we can’t forget that audible pop of her shoulder sliding back into place after it dislocated. On Heroes vs. Villains, the first reward challenge involved digging and wrestling players on the opposing team. Entertainment Weekly reminds us Stephenie had a shoulder that could easily pop in and out of place, so of course during this very physical challenge, it was easily dislocated.

Medical ran to her aid quickly, and they popped her shoulder back into place right then and there. She continued the game, but it reminded us just how brutal Survivor can get.

6. Colton Cumble had a bacterial infection in his intestines

Colton stands and smiles with his hands on his hips.

He was able to get help before it was too late. | CBS

Fans and contestants alike hated this infamous player in One World. So, when Colton complained of severe stomach pain on the first season he appeared on, it didn’t garner much sympathy. With that said, he was medically evacuated due to concerns of appendicitis.

Luckily for Colton, it wasn’t appendicitis after all. E! News reports it was a severe bacterial infection in his intestines and the lining of his stomach that caused pain and headaches. He was immediately transported to a hospital, where he received antibiotics and further treatments once he returned home.

5. Joe Dowdle almost lost a leg

Joe Dowdle being inspected by a medic.

One of the scariest incidents we remember. | CBS

During Tocantins, contestant Joe Dowdle was forced to leave the show due to concerns over an infection. TV Guide explains during an immunity challenge, Joe scraped his leg while pushing large blocks. And it was after another physical challenge that he started to feel aching in his leg. The following morning, it looked inflamed and extremely painful.

Joe went home forcibly, as the medics feared he may lose his leg if the infection spread further. He says he wanted to continue playing, but he was also somewhat relieved when the medical team told him he needed to leave. The pain was too unbearable to manage.

4. Jonathan Penner had a puncture wound that became severely infected

John Penner speaks in front of an ocean.

His infected knee injury needed special attention. | CBS

Following a challenge on Fans vs. Favorites, contestant Jonathan noticed he had a puncture wound in his knee. It was stitched by the medical team and he continued playing, but soon, the pain was too agonizing to ignore. This wasn’t Jonathan’s first wound while on the show, either, as Reality TV World notes he already had stitches from an injury a few days prior. But because his new wound was of the puncture variety, it festered quickly.

The medical team evacuated him following the signs of infection, and he went through multiple operations spanning the course of 20 days.

3. Russell Swan passed out from severe dehydration

Russel Swan being carried by his team.

Russel Swan passed out from not getting enough fluids and vitamins. | CBS

On the Samoa season, Russell gave executive producer and host of the show, Jeff Probst, a serious scare. The Los Angeles Times notes the contestant collapsed during a challenge from a lack of water and nutrients in his system. He didn’t feel ill during the challenge itself, but his fainting showed the toll the outdoors took.

According to Russell, he doesn’t even remember exactly what went down. All he remembers is stumbling blindly through the challenge and feeling confused as to why the medics removed him from the game. It wasn’t until later, after looking back at the video footage, did he realize just how potentially deadly the situation was.

2. Caleb Reynolds suffered from a near-deadly heat stroke

Caleb smiles while standing in front of the island.

The conditions and temperatures can get quite extreme. | CBS

Three people fainted during one particularly grueling challenge on Kaôh Rōng. The contestants had to dig through the sand for almost an hour for sandbags, resulting in multiple cases of heatstroke. While two of them recovered, Caleb Reynolds wasn’t so lucky.

People reports Caleb knew something was wrong when he felt his body temperature rise even though he stopped sweating. After the challenge, he collapsed — and medics said his heart rate rose to 118 and his temperature climbed to 107 degrees. The medics removed him from the game, and he stayed in the ICU for five days to recover.

1. Michael Skupin collapsed into a fire

Michael Skupin smiles at a Survivor event while posing for photographers.

This could have been a very deadly injury. | Frederick M. Brown/iStock/Getty Images

The scariest moment in Survivor history happened early on in Season 2. On Australian Outback, Michael Skupin was tending to the fire when, suddenly, he collapsed. Not only did he pass out from the smoke inhalation, but he fell right into the campfire, resulting in serious burns on his hands. He regained consciousness instantly and ran for the water, but the damage was irreversible.

ABC News reports medics gave Michael an inhaler and wrapped his hands in gauze. Unfortunately, he couldn’t continue the game and was then airlifted to a burn unit in Australia.

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