There would be a high chance of dying in “Alone,” a reality TV series that focuses on 10 or 14 individuals surviving in the wilderness, if it wasn’t for the regular monitoring and fast reactions of the medical staff. Leftfield Pictures, which produced the show that premiered on History Channel on 18 June 2015, gives contestants a quick survival and filming training boot camp, equips them with cameras, and leaves them in a remote location. Those locations are often on land inhabited or controlled by indigenous people, with limited resources that require time, skill, and energy to obtain.

Contestants receive weekly medical check-ups, which decreases the chances of death, but they must quit or be in a dire condition to receive help. After all, the season’s winner, or the last man or woman standing, got to go home with US$500,000, except in the seventh season, when the prize was $1 million.

Some winners get lucky and suffer less because of fellow competitors who tap out quickly, such as Desmond White, who quit after six hours in the ninth season. However, that may only shorten their time fighting off or avoiding wildlife, hunting, fishing and gathering supplies by a week or two. The contestants must endure the harsh conditions and stay alive for at least 60 days, and some, such as Roland Welker, the record holder, persevered for 100 days. With that in mind, people should hold supervisors and the medical staff in high regard, because no one died on their watch. However, some contestants got close, and one died years after participating. Here’s who those people were.

“Alone” has no deaths on record

While competing in “Alone” is a difficult feat, considering how challenging the rules are, physical strength is essential. On short notice, the crew drops participants off in an undisclosed remote area; the show has thousands of applications and only lets the chosen ones know about a month or two before departure. Additionally, producers ensure that they cannot meet during the competition, and the show starts in mid or late autumn, meaning the weather quickly becomes harsh. Also, wildlife begins to hide, or run in groups.

While they can pick 10 out of 40 survival items on the producer’s list, alongside one kit of standard survival items, first aid/emergency supplies, and some clothing, the participants can also pick two different food items. All contestants undergo drastic physical transformations due to a lack of food and water, and the often adverse weather. Many get seriously hurt or become ill for various reasons, usually tied to bacteria, parasites, and infections.

With that in mind, there’s no doubt that several contestants would have died during 10 seasons of the main show or its two spin-offs, “Alone: Frozen” and “Alone: The Skills Challenge,” if medical professionals failed to react in time. They are required to disqualify a contestant they deem unable to continue safely, even if the patient vehemently objects. Shawn Witt, the executive producer, explained, ‘When we set out to make this show, it was always about everyone’s safety first, and the show second.’

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Tracy died in 2019

Tracy Elizabeth Wilson was a season two contestant, who died from a sudden illness on 16 September 2019 in Rexburg, Idaho, USA. One fan posted about her death three days later via his Facebook page, “Alan Kay – Survival,” and the news spread quickly. Fans may remember that she was born into a military family and thus lived in several US states during her life. She was seen as confident, practical, and compassionate, and was described as having an ideal combination of strength and heart. Most fans remember how much Tracy loved her dog at home, and that she tried her best to calm down, rather than kill, a baby bear that she scared in one episode. Tracy explained her demeanor with, “I’ve been through quite a bit in my life, a witness to a lot of challenging things that have been very emotionally and physically trying. That island will renew my sense of hope in people as well as in myself.’

Her obituary, posted by Shellhouse Funeral Home, revealed that she was born in the US Air Force base in Madrid, Spain, matriculated from South Aiken High School, and was a daughter of David Alton and Cora Ann Richardson Wilson.

Tracy left behind two sons, David and Tad, daughter Cynthia, two grandchildren, Owyn and Kara Blackwell, and a half-sister, Chantée Wilson. Moreover, she had spent four years following her appearance in the show giving survival classes. A former Air Force colleague who was allegedly her boss claimed that Tracy was a male-to-female transgender person named David Wilson, who transitioned in 2010, but the claim is unsubstantiated.

Zachary severed a tendon

Although Zachary Gault had a first aid and emergency kit with him, his gruesome injury looked horrible on-screen. He was cleaning up some shrubbery with his axe and casually exploring, when Zachary suddenly fell to the ground and began writhing in pain. He quickly stood up and headed for the camp, but viewers could see his blood gushing rapidly. Zachary applied cotton and wrapped the wound in bandages but discovered that the injury was more than a gash.

He used his satellite phone to call for help, and the medical team pulled him out of the competition. They later revealed that Zachary accidentally cut a tendon in his arm with the axe, and that calling for medical help likely saved his life. During the season recap, Zachary revealed that his tendon or ligament was damaged, and that he could no longer bend his thumb.

Mary lacerated her left arm

Mary Kate Green suffered a similar fate to Zachary during the second season. She had much success during her seventh day in the wild, as she found enough food and started a fire with her Ferro rod. That’s potentially why Mary lost focus while chopping wood to add to the fire, and accidentally cut her left hand with her axe. Blood started pouring out uncontrollably, and while she didn’t sever her hand, it was clear that Mary had punctured something vital because she had lost control of her thumb. Thankfully, she used her GPS device to call medical professionals who evacuated her.

Shannon had a spinal injury

Many of the injuries in the show looked ghastly, but were far from deadly. However, Shannon Bosdell, who joined with his brother Jesse, showed that an injury can be invisible yet spine-chilling, literally. He suffered a back injury after tripping on a log during the fourth season. Shannon’s pain worsened over time, and the excruciating pain during the third episode forced him to consider tapping out.

Thankfully, the medical team decided for him, extracting him after they recognized that he’d started to lose feeling in his legs. That indicated to them that Shannon had injured his spine, and pressured or severed the nerves, and they knew that prolonged swelling could cause permanent damage or death. Shannon later reported that his situation improved after quick and appropriate treatment.

Callie had frostbitten toes

Callie Russell competed in the seventh season and was among the best-known cast members because she survived 89 days. She joined the inaugural season of the spin-off, “Alone: Frozen,” in 2022, in which she shared more about the death in her family. Callie said that she lost her two brothers when she was younger, and was angry and self-destructive for a while because she felt guilty. One brother died in a car crash, while the other took his own life, and their deaths eventually made her realize that she should never take another day for granted.

Callie told the camera on day 89 that she realized her body had reached a physical limit despite her feeling far from a spiritual, mental, and emotional maximum. Although the danger wasn’t evident, she said that problems with frostbitten toes could be life-threatening. If left untreated, the tissue can become necrotic and die, which could lead to sepsis and death. Callie wasn’t safe even if she received medical help; if the frostbite damage were extensive, doctors would need to amputate her toes.

Luckily, the medical team saved Callie from herself; they evacuated her, gave her a blanket and a thermos, and soaked her feet in Yarrow tea to keep them warm. Callie didn’t require a surgical operation afterwards, but still suffered permanent nerve damage. It was the worst on her right foot, making it numb and cold even in mildly cold weather of 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius. Problems with her toes returned in the spin-off; starvation, slow metabolism, and reduced blood flow due to freezing temperatures and lack of fire numbed her toes, and she tapped out in the seventh episode.

Rose had hypothermia

Rose Anna Moore, from Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, reached the top five contestants in the show’s eighth season. She fared relatively well until day 37 when things took a sharp turn, and she spoke into the camera, ‘I think I’m in trouble. I think something is wrong.’ The supervisors saw her cry for help, and a medical team rushed to check on her. They concluded that her symptoms of frostbite hypothermia were still in the early stages, but that she couldn’t safely continue in the competition.

Rose risked freezing or starving to death in the worst case, and having her limbs surgically operated on or removed even if she survived. Rose was disappointed but happy afterwards. She is still a passionate survivalist, hosting primitive camps for 100 women and girls every July, through her non-profit company, This is My Quest Inc., which provides conservation education and hunting and survival courses through outdoor exposure, to preserve American heritage.

The first death would be the end

“Alone” and its spin-offs consistently state that they want contestants to push themselves to their limits, but not at the risk of death. Shawn Witt elaborated on his statement that the contestant’s safety is a priority, by thanking the medical professionals for saving the contestants from themselves. He said that the human spirit is resilient, and that contestants in this show are especially in danger because they refuse to give up. Consequently, the medical team performs regular check-ups every seven days. After about 45 then 60 days, they study contestants more often, every three to four days.

Shawn also implied that a death would end the show, stating, ‘We don’t ever want to be in a situation where a headline says somebody died or almost died on our show. It doesn’t make sense for us; it doesn’t make sense for the network.’ Lawyers and insurance agents among viewers pointed out that the production team would stop filming and pull everyone out if someone lost their life. Besides losing money for not airing an entire season, Leftfield Pictures would have to pay for the investigation into the cause, and potentially reimburse the family. That would force the people in charge to admit that their rescue technology is flawed, putting off future contestants and leading to more lawsuits. Finally, “Alone” likely wouldn’t be insured again if they were found even partially guilty, and legal proceedings could drag on for years.

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