TV doctor kills self after French "Survivor" death
PARIS (AP) — A doctor overseeing the French version of the "Survivor" reality show has committed suicide following the sudden death of a contestant who he had treated, France's biggest TV station says.
Dr. Thierry Costa killed himself on location Monday on an island in Cambodia, the TF1 station said. Costa, 38, blamed the press for damaging his professional reputation in a handwritten suicide note that TF1 published on its website.
It was the second death in as many weeks to hit the prime-time "Koh-Lanta" show that it broadcasts.
The first tragedy was a 25-year-old contestant, Gerald Babin, who died March 22 during the first day of filming for the show's 2013 season. Babin went to Costa to get treated for mysterious cramps he had during the season's first tropical challenge but died in a hospital soon after following a heart attack, according to TF1.
The network has not released any details about what the contestants were doing before Babin died but French media said he was engaged in a tug-of-war.
An inquiry into "involuntary homicide" was launched by the Creteil prosecutor's office into Babin's death and TF1 immediately cancelled the show's season.
But controversy over the death grew. Anonymous comments appeared in French media accusing Costa and Adventure Line Productions of negligence that contributed to Babin's death — charges that all parties vehemently denied.
Costa's suicide note addressed these allegations.
"These last few days my name has been smeared in the media. Unjust accusations and assumptions were uttered against me," he wrote on notepaper from the hotel where the "Koh-Lanta" team was staying. "Having to rebuild this destroyed reputation seems unbearable to me, so this is my only possible choice."
TF1 said it "shares the pain" of Costa's family.
Adventure Line Productions issued a statement expressing its "consternation" over the suicide.
"This tragic event must push those who irresponsibly accused and commented to come out and take responsibility," the company said in a statement.
In his suicide note, Costa's last wish was to be cremated in Cambodia so that his body never has to return to France.
In 2009, a contestant of the Bulgarian version of "Survivor" died of a heart attack while filming on an island beach in the Philippines.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP