Discovery helicopter crash adds to list of reality show tragedies

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Discovery Channel | Photo Credits: Discovery Channel

The sad news came out over the weekend that three people had died in a helicopter crash while filming a new, military-themed Discovery Channel reality show.

The crew and passengers were identified as pilot David Gibbs, 59, of Valencia; cameraman Darren Rydstrom, 45, of Whittier; and cast member Michael Donatelli, 45, of Indiana. Deadline Hollywood identified Donatelli as a former elite Special Forces Army officer. The circumstances surrounding the crash are as yet unknown.

In a statement, the Discovery Channel said, "A production company was shooting a show for Discovery Channel when this tragic accident occurred. We are all cooperating fully with authorities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families."

As lighthearted as some reality shows may be, the genre is not immune to grief. Other recent tragedies include the following:

  • "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast member Russell Armstrong hanged himself in 2011.
  • "Punk'd" producer Gabriel Ben-Meir was murdered just steps from his home in 2011.
  • New Jersey chef Joe Cerniglia, who appeared on "Kitchen Nightmares" in 2007, jumped off a bridge three years later.
  • Another recipient of Gordon Ramsay's verbal abuse, Rachel Brown of "Hell's Kitchen," shot herself.
  • Captain Phil Harris of "The Deadliest Catch" suffered a stroke on his fishing boat in 2010; the discovery of his body by one of his crew members was caught on tape.
  • "Bachelorette" contestant Julien Hug committed suicide in 2010.
  • Danny Bonaduce's suicide attempt was captured on his reality show, "Breaking Bonaduce." He survived after police held him in a psychiatric facility.

Is there a reality TV curse?

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