Eric Hill, one of the suitors vying for Andi Dorfman's roses in the upcoming season of ABC's "The Bachelorette," has died following a paragliding accident over the weekend. He was 32.
"Eric shared his final journey with us this morning as all his immediate family were able to be at his side when he passed away," his sister, Karen Tracy, wrote on Facebook Wednesday morning.
"Thank you to all of your love and support and prayers and fasting. It was amazing to be with so many of his friends and family yesterday in the hospital who came to express their love for Eric. He gave us such a gift of a life fully lived and fully shared, and allowed us all to be a part of his last adventure here on earth. It is hard to think of life without his bright spark, but we know he is on to new adventures. We look forward to carrying on his legacy here and greeting him joyfully again someday. I love you so much, little brother!"
On "The Bachelorette," Hill had already reportedly been sent home by Dorfman at the time of his death. However, he also reportedly had the first one-on-one date with her during the series.
Producers of the show issued the following statement: "We are deeply saddened to hear about the tragic passing of our friend, Eric Hill. Eric inspired us every day with his passion, his courage and his adventurous spirit, and for that we are very thankful. On behalf of our cast, crew and producers, we send our love, our thoughts and our prayers to Eric’s family during this difficult time."
"She did a cartwheel, I did a front hand spring...instant friends:) Ciudad de Dios in Villa de Leyva, Colombia" — @gowitheric on Instagram
Hill was paragliding Sunday afternoon at Point of the Mountain in Draper, Utah, when, according to Salt Lake City CBS affiliate KUTV, "the [parachute] canopy collapsed 15 to 20 feet from land, sending him crashing into the mountainside," at a high velocity. He was found unconscious but still breathing. Rescuers carried him down to AirMed paramedics, who transferred Hill to the University of Utah hospital in critical condition. He never regained consciousness.
The self-described adventurer was currently in the midst of a journey dubbed The Global Odyssey Project, for which he planned to visit all 195 United Nation-recognized countries in a Guinness world record-breaking period of time "to show that awesome exists in EVERY country, especially with the people." He was documenting his journey on his personal website, GoWithEric. According to his site, he had made it to 51 countries at the time of his accident.
"We knew we were in a rush to get to our destination. The only way to cross this stretch of beach was at low tide. After 4 hours of hiking it was too late. The waves closed in on a stretch of cliffs in front and behind us. We were stuck until the tide went back down. Even though I’ve seen Heather do all sorts of daring things over the years, I wouldn’t even take HER over the next stretch until low tide came back. We would have been smashed to pieces against the rocks for sure. Oh well...wait until you see the pictures of where we got stuck...it's incredible. Far south coast of Costa Rica #travel#worldrecord#gowitheric#globalodyssey#costarica" — @gowitheric on Instagram
A graduate of Brigham Young University who majored in Human Biology with a minor in Business Management, Hill grew up in the Sacramento, California suburbs of Citrus Heights. He had already visited all 50 states when he decided to set aside his plans for dental school, and set his travel goals even broader. He began his journey to visit every country with a trip to North Korea in February 2013.
"Bachelorette" host Chris Harrison, while guest hosting "The View" Wednesday, briefly mentioned Hill's accident but that was before the news came that the contestant had died. There has been no word yet on how ABC, Next Entertainment, and Warner Horizon — which co-produce "The Bachelorette" — will handle the shocking development as they prepare to promote the show's 10th season, set to premiere on May 19. The situation is virtually uncharted territory for a reality TV show in the U.S.
The most similar situation took place in 2009 when Ryan Jenkins from VH1's "I Love Money 3" died before the show ever aired. Jenkins was an ex-contestant from another VH1 show, "Megan Wants a Millionaire," who killed himself in a motel room in British Columbia, after being suspected in the murder of his wife, Jasmine Fiore. VH1 ended up pulling "I Love Money 3" and also canceled "Megan."