Reality TV stars involved in horrible accidents
Falling into the fantasy of reality television is part of the reason the genre has such a large and dedicated fanbase. Viewers crave the drama as much as they do the experience of living vicariously through another’s shoes as they deal with “real-life” circumstances, willing to watch in suspended disbelief as to what is actually real or not real in reality TV.
Reality TV show critics can argue for days how much of these series are set up by producers and how often the events or reactions from the stars happen organically. The one thing that is undoubtedly not manufactured, however, is the often horrifying and very real events that many small screen celebrities have experienced, sometimes even resulting in tragic losses.
From tragic deaths, to horrific injuries — sometimes as a result their own terrible, irreversible choices — here are some reality TV stars that have been involved in horrible accidents.
This reality TV star’s boating accident claimed two lives
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Shark Tank star and entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary confirmed to CNN through his agent, Jay Sures, that he was involved in a boating accident that killed two people and injured four others at the end of August 2019. The outlet also confirmed that O’Leary was a passenger on the boat, driven by his wife, Linda. According to Global News, the O’Leary’s boat tragically collided with another on Lake Joseph in Seguin, Ontario. A 64-year-old man died in the crash, while a 48-year-old woman, Susanne Brito, passed away a few days later in the hospital while being treated for her injuries.
According to Page Six, on September 2, 2019, O’Leary hired Defense Attorney Brian Greenspan, who has notably defended other celebrities including Justin Bieber, Naomi Campbell, and Catherine Smith. The tab reported that the reality TV star sought out counsel after his statements differed from police officer’s accounts. O’Leary alleged that the other boat involved in the accident left the scene after the crash, and also did not have its lights on. According to Global News, the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police stated that after the collision, “both vessels had left the scene.” A source also told TMZ that the navigation lights on the other boat were on at the time of the crash, directly challenging O’Leary’s initial statement to TMZ that the other boat “had no navigation lights on.”
This reality TV star died doing what she loved
CNN reported at the end of August 2019 that former MythBusters star Jessi Combs was involved in a fatal crash in the Alvord Desert in Oregon at the age of 39. Combs, who was also a race car driver, was attempting to break her land speed record in a jet-powered car. According to CNN, the reality TV star earned her “fastest woman on four wheels” title in 2013 when she set her 398 mph record at the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger. She then set a new record in October 2019 during a shakedown run clocking 483.2 mph. Combs was attempting to break that top speed when she ended up crashing.
Former MythBusters co-host Adam Savage shared his sadness over Twitter after the news hit, saying: “She was a brilliant and to[p]-notch builder, engineer, driver, fabricator, and science communicator, and strove everyday to encourage others by her prodigious example. She was also a colleague, and we are lesser for her absence.”
A horrible car accident resulted in no jail time or this reality TV star
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In 2017, the Des Moines Register reported that The Bachelor star Chris Soules fatally injured an Iowa farmer, after striking the man with his pickup truck. According to the news outlet, Soules was arrested and charged with a Class D felony for “leaving the scene of a deadly crash.” The 66-year-old victim, Kenneth E. Mosher, was driving his tractor when he was hit from behind by Soules’ pickup truck, and was later pronounced dead at Oetwein’s Mercy Hospital. The reality TV star was taken into custody at his home a couple of hours after the incident after he reportedly left the scene of the accident.
In January 2018, USA Today reported that Soules’ attorneys attempted to have his case thrown out based on their argument “that the laws he is accused of violating are unconstitutionally vague or violated any of his constitutional rights.” The judge dismissed those efforts, and on November 13, 2018, Soules entered a conditional guilty plea for “leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious injury,” as reported by People. On August 23, 2019, Today reported that Soules received a suspended sentence of two years as well as a $625 fine, avoiding jail time for the aggravated misdemeanor.
This reality TV star ‘can’t believe’ what she did
Melissa Hancock was involved in a fatal car crash in Virginia in 2017, according to TMZ. Virginia State Police arrested the Little Women: Atlanta star for allegedly driving under the influence, maiming, and driving the wrong way. The victim, U.S. Coast Guard technician Daniel Dill, suffered a major spinal cord injury as well as internal injuries and broken bones before passing away in the hospital, as reported by WHIO-TV. The accident involved a head-on collision between the reality TV star’s 2011 Cadillac and Dill’s 2009 Mazda. One hour after the crash, Hancock’s blood-alcohol level tested at 0.194 percent, above the legal limit of 0.08.
According to The Virginian-Pilot, Hancock plead guilty on May 23, 2018, to aggravated manslaughter while driving under the influence, driving the wrong way, and failing to obey a highway sign. The same outlet followed-up on October 10, 2018, reporting that the reality star had been sentenced to 16 years in prison for aggravated involuntary manslaughter and DUI, and fined $3,000. The news outlet shared Hancock’s remorseful message to the Dill family: “Words cannot express my sympathy. I can’t believe what I have done. I could never mean to hurt anyone.”
This reality TV star’s accident could have been way worse
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According to E! News, Savannah Chrisley was hospitalized following a car accident in January 2017. The Chrisley Knows Best star’s father, Todd Chrisley, told the outlet that his daughter sustained “a fractured vertebrae in her neck and several bruises and burns from the airbags.” The reality TV star was apparently driving during a rainstorm when her driver’s side floor mat became stuck under the gas pedal after she attempted to fix the max, taking her eyes off of the road. When she looked up, her vehicle “veered toward [a] guardrail,” and crashed into it.
The then-19-year-old’s father also shared with the outlet that his daughter would face “a six-week recovery period” for her injuries. A few days after the accident, Todd spoke with People about strangers on the internet that were accusing Savannah of texting and driving: “The last text message she sent out was 44 minutes before she had her wreck,” he said, adding that people calling her a “dumb b***h” was “hurtful.” A few months later, Savannah made her first red carpet appearance on April 2, 2017, at the ACM Awards, seemingly recovered from her injuries, as reported by E! News.
A freak accident partially blinded this reality TV star
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Theo Campbell, The Challenge and Love Island star, was blinded in one eye following a freak accident. He shared on his Instagram that after two eye surgeries, he’s “lost all vision” in his right eye after it was “split in half.” The reality TV star explained that a champagne cork was the culprit. Campbell stayed positive in his post, saying that he still has “one eye left” and that he’s on the lookout for “cool eye patches.”
Campbell also posted about the incident on his Twitter account on August 28, 2019, sharing that he had seven stitches in his eye and that the doctors had told him it was “unlikely” he would ever “see properly again.” Campbell finished the Tweet with fingers crossed, saying: “[I’m] hopeful and don’t want to believe my eye is gone forever. Anything is possible.” By September 5, 2019, Campbell, while donning a new eye patch over his right eye, announced (via Instagram) that he would be running a 10K race to raise money for the Himalayan Cataract Project.
The following day, Campbell shared with Metro’s This Morning that he is able to see light, but his vision in his right eye is like “a stain-glassed window.” He also revealed more about what happened the day he was injured, detailing that when he had taken off his sunglasses to rub his eye, a champagne bottle was popped and the cork hit him directly in his right eye. Ouch!
Bad driving habits became deadly for this reality TV star
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On June 20, 2011, NBC reported that Jackass star Ryan Dunn died in a horrific car accident in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Dunn’s passenger, Zachary Hartwell, also lost his life when the vehicle Dunn was driving flew over a guardrail and burst into flames after striking a tree. According to the Chester County Coroner’s report (via NBC), Dunn and Hartwell’s cause of death was listed as “Blunt and Thermal Trauma due to a motor vehicle accident. The nature of the deaths was listed as Accidental.”
Bam Margera, a fellow Jackass castmate, was Dunn’s best friend, and their relationship extended to the rest of the Margera family. Margera’s parents, April and Phil, spoke to NBC about Dunn after the accident, saying they thought of him as a son, and that he was “just the sweetest guy you’d ever want to know and he would do anything for you.” April added that Dunn “drove too fast and I yelled at him all the time about that.”
ABC News apparently confirmed April’s sentiments about the reality TV star’s driving habits, reporting that he had one DUI and “10 [driving citations] for speeding and careless driving” prior to his deadly crash. The West Goshen Police Department later revealed Dunn had a blood-alcohol level of 0.196 at the time of his death, which is over twice the legal limit in Pennsylvania, and that Dunn had been driving between 132 and 140 mph when the crash occurred.
A high-flying accident killed this reality TV star
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Eric Hill died in Utah after a tragic paragliding accident. The Bachelorette contestant reportedly suffered critical injuries on April 23, 2014, and passed away after he fell into a coma at the hospital. The 31-year-old was paragliding near Point of the Mountain in Draper when his chute deployed and then collapsed. “There was an issue with the chute that took him too close to the mountain and kind of slammed him into the mountain,” Hill’s brother told The Salt Lake Tribune.
In a 2013 report, KSL.com revealed that Hill set up a project called The Global Odyssey, in which the adventurer intended to visit all 194 UN-recognized countries in record time. He made it 46 countries by the time of his death, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Hill’s mission statement for The Global Odyssey read: “In a world full of news that wants to scare you outside of anything outside of your own border, I want to be the one telling everybody that even in the craziest places, awesome exists.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the reality TV star had filmed his season of The Bachelorette not long before the accident.
Could the plane crash that killed this reality TV star have been avoided?
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According to CNN, reality TV star and musician Jenni Rivera died in a plane crash in 2012, along with six other passengers. The plane apparently crashed in northern Mexico in a “mountainous area,” leaving no survivors. Following a search for Rivera and the other passengers’ remains, the singer’s brother told CNN that “the plane was totally destroyed… It is a great tragedy.” The other passengers involved in the tragic accident included Rivera’s publicist, her lawyer, and her makeup artists. CNN also described the Learjet aircraft the group was traveling in as a small plane that “was 43 years old.”
In July 2016, NBC News and the Associated Press reported that Starwood Management LLC, the company that owned the plane, was ordered by a Los Angeles judge to pay the families of four of the deceased passengers in a $70 million settlement. The massive settlement came after the families of the four passengers filed a wrongful death suit against Starwood Management and Rivera’s entertainment company after a long investigation by Mexico’s aviation agency, as reported by CNN. The investigation determined that the 78-year-old pilot of the Learjet was too old for the license he obtained, and that the plane had been flying unevenly and was apparently “shaking when it reached cruising speed.”
This reality TV star’s charity stunt went horribly wrong
On September 28, 2015, USA Today reported that Erik Roner, an action sports athlete and MTV’s Nitro Circus star, was killed in a skydiving accident after he hit a tree while attempting to land during a skydiving performance. Roner was performing with a group of others for the opening ceremony of a celebrity golf tournament at the Squaw Alpine Meadows Resort, which was hosted by The Squaw Valley Institute. The reality TV star, who was also a professional skier and BASE jumper, had dedicated much of his time to organization, according to a statement saying issued by the resort.
Roy Tuscany, a friend of Roner’s, who spoke with USA Today, witnessed the event: “Erik just came in and clipped a tree and everything was horrible from thereafter. Having everybody watch this it makes it even more tragic, more horrible.” According to the news outlet, Tuscany is co-founder and executive director of the High Fives Foundation. The organization “helps injured action sports athletes,” and served as the duo’s introduction to each other in 2010 when they met as Roner was recovering after breaking his femur. The Associated Press (via X Games), reported that Tuscany witnessed Roner slam into a tree before his parachute got caught, causing the star to hang in the air as people on the ground attempted to reach him.
A freak accident killed this reality TV star and two others
In April 2013, Buckwild star Shain Gandee, his uncle David Dwight Gandee, and Donald Robert Myers were discovered dead in Gandee’s SUV, as reported by CNN. The three men succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. The freak accident occurred after the vehicle’s tailpipe was apparently “submerged in mud” while the three men were off-roading, which is what officials believed caused the carbon monoxide poisoning, per USA Today. The news outlet also reported that the bodies were discovered by a friend of Gandee’s who had apparently been searching for the men after the reality star disappeared over the weekend.
According to CNN, the sheriff reported that they had “received word of a disabled vehicle in a wooded area,” and Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department members reached the reality TV star and the other two men by using ATVs. The 1984 Ford Bronco was found “uneven but upright,” and partially submerged in the mud, including the muffler, leaving the driver’s side where Gandee was clear, but partially covering the lower part of the passenger door. MTV commented on the tragic accident (via CNN), saying: “Shain had a magnetic personality, with a passion for life that touched everyone he met and we will miss him dearly.”
There is still mystery surrounding this reality TV star’s fatal accident
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The Washington Post reported in 2015 that Work Out reality TV star Greg Plitt was killed after being struck by a train as he apparently attempted to race the train while filming for a project outside of Los Angeles. Police officer Joshua Kendrick told the Associated Press (via The Washington Post) that the conductor of the train could “see somebody on the tracks a distance away,” but “for one reason or another, unfortunately, Mr. Plitt did not get off the tracks,” after the conductor blew the train’s horn and pulled the brakes. According to CBS Los Angeles, a few of Plitt’s friends reported that the reality star, fitness model, and actor “was filming an action sequence” at the time of his death, but others apparently stated that the footage was for an energy drink commercial.
According to TMZ, officers reviewed a video of the accident, and revealed that right before the train reached Plitt, who was allegedly crouched down on the tracks in “a runner stance,” he took off before being quickly clipped by the train. A source allegedly told investigators that for the supposed energy drink commercial, Plitt was trying to show that the drink would make consumers “able to outrun a speeding train.” An official from Metrolink told CBS Los Angeles that Plitt and his crew did not have the proper permits to be filming next to the tracks.
A horrible motorcycle accident claimed this reality TV star’s life
MTV News reported in 2017 that Catfish star Robert Brian Clark died in a motorcycle accident in Birmingham, Alabama, at the age of 33. Clark was on the second season of the MTV reality dating series, which aired in 2013. According to US Weekly, Clark was a former Marine, who struggled with post traumatic stress disorder. Jesse Bettinger, the Catfish star that previously dated Clark for three years, posted pictures on her Facebook (per Us Weekly) of the deceased reality TV star, commenting: “I’ll never forget our good times. Your struggle is finally over.”
Birmingham Real-Time News confirmed that the accident occurred on December 7, 2016. The local news outlet reported that Clark was driving his 2011 Yamaha FZ6-R when he suddenly went airborne as he crossed a set of railroad tracks. The bike reportedly landed on its side as it came back down, causing Clark to be thrown off and hit by an oncoming truck. He was pronounced dead 20 minutes after the accident.