The "Survivor" community was in absolute shock late last night when the internet began buzzing with word that "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" contestant, Caleb Bankston, had died in a tragic railway accident. The incredibly saddening news of Caleb's death was confirmed today as friends, family and fans mourned. In the past hour or so, new details have emerged, although many details still remain unclear.
According to WNCT-9 News, sources close to the news source confirmed that Caleb died after being crushed between two railroad cars. He worked as an engineer for the Alabama Warrior Railway. According to this same source, Bankston was checking on something between two cars when the train derailed, crushing him in-between. There were no other reported injuries or fatalities, and both the Federal Railroad Administration and OSHA are investigating the accident.
The updated information comes from a post by WNCT-9 anchor and TV personality, Jeff Varner, a former "Survivor" contestant himself who competed on the show's second season, "The Australian Outback."
Caleb was a beloved player, introduced to the "Survivor" world opposite his fiance, Colton Cumbie, who returned to play in the "Blood vs. Water" edition of the show, which paired up past players with their loved ones to compete for the million dollar prize. The word "opposite" couldn't be a better description for what we knew about Caleb, who in contrast to Colton, was a very even-keeled, calm and steady personality. He was incredibly well-liked by others on the show as well as fans, and he ultimately finished on the jury, lasting 30 days in the game.
According to reports, Caleb and Colton were set to marry this coming Fall. Caleb Bankston was just 27 years old.
Caleb is just the third former "Survivor" contestant to die, following "Survivor: Palau" contestant Jenn Lyon (breast cancer at age 37) and original Season One veteran, BB Anderson (brain cancer at age 76).
Our hearts go out to Colton, Caleb's family and those that knew and loved him. As Jeff Varner wrote to close out his article, he sums it up perfectly:
As a member of this Survivor family, my heart is broken tonight. I had grown to respect and love both Caleb and Colton since they joined our ranks. He will be missed by so many."
More information is sure to become available as the story unfolds. There was no immediate response from CBS or Jeff Probst, who is currently on location filming the upcoming 29th and 30th seasons of "Survivor."