Eric Hill, a 31-year-old contestant on this upcoming season of “The Bachelorette,” died after being critically injured in a paragliding accident over the weekend in Utah, his family confirmed Wednesday.
Hill, a world traveler who chronicled his adventures for an online project called “The Global Odyssey” and was planning to film a documentary, was one of the nearly two dozen men competing for bachelorette Andi Dorfman’s attention. The upcoming season, which is still filming and will wrap up in the next few weeks, is scheduled to premiere May 19.
Paparazzi photos show Hill went on at least one date with Dorfman, though host Chris Harrison said on “The View” that he was no longer on the show at the time of the accident.
Warner Bros., the production company behind the show, released a statement Wednesday afternoon from “The Bachelor” producers: “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,” it read. “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.”
Like all reality dating competitions, “The Bachelorette” is admittedly part of a pretty tasteless franchise. So how does a frothy, tabloid-favorite show deal with a tragic situation? How will they handle having Hill on screen? It’s a tough question, as producers must decide how to compile and edit the footage of Hill and not seem insensitive, especially to his family.
Though it’s rare for ABC to confirm or acknowledge events on an upcoming reality show before it airs, Harrison addressed the situation on “The View,” as Hill had been in a coma since Sunday. The episode was taped before Hill’s family confirmed his death, so Harrison told the hosts that Hill was in critical condition.
“On a very sad, serious note, there was a contestant on this season of ‘The Bachelorette,’ his name is Eric Hill. And he was just involved in a very tragic accident off the show,” Harrison said. “He was in a paragliding accident a couple days ago.”
As Harrison noted that those associated with the show “loved having him around,” and thoughts and prayers were with Hill’s family, moderator Barbara Walters asked the question: “That is a tragedy,” she said. “But how are you going to edit this?”
“The show? I don’t know,” Harrison told her. “We haven’t gotten there yet.”
“That’s a problem there,” Walters started to say.
“Yeah, we haven’t begun to get there,” Harrison said, ending the matter.