Eric Hill, a former resident of Citrus Heights and a contestant on an upcoming edition of the television series “The Bachelorette,” has died from injuries suffered in a paragliding accident in Utah.
Hill, a 2000 graduate of Del Campo High School, died Wednesday morning after reportedly being in a coma since Sunday afternoon when his parachute collapsed during paragliding near Point of the Mountain in Draper, a community near Salt Lake City.
Friends of Hill said he had recently finished taping “The Bachelorette,” and was a contestant on Andi Dorfman’s upcoming season of the ABC show.
His sister Karen Tracy posted the sad news of her brother’s death on her Facebook page:
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“Eric shared his final journey with us this morning as all his immediate family were able to be at his side when he passed away,” she wrote.
People Magazine reported that Hill, 32, was an extreme sports enthusiast and had been on a mission to travel to every country in the world in fewer than 1,200 days, which he dubbed Global Odyssey.
Friends say he lived life to the fullest, even performing handstands on the edge of Half Dome and the Great Wall of China.
Gary Zavoral taught Eric in church and was his Venturing leader in Boy Scouts. Venturing is a youth development program.
“Eric was always doing extreme sports before there was such a thing,” Zavoral said. “He did handstands on the edge atop Half Dome, on a Coos Bay pier 50 feet above boulders and, on his Global Odyssey, on top of the Great Wall of China. Now I’m sure he’s doing handstands on the edge of heaven.”
Melissa Zavoral Hoof attended elementary, high school and college at Brigham Young University with Hill. She said that people were drawn to her charming, good-looking friend whom she described as outgoing. It did not surprise her that Hill went on “The Bachelorette.”
“That was his personality,” she said. “He was fun-loving, willing to try something new.”
Utah television station KUTV reported that Hill was paragliding with friends at the flight park in Draper when the canopy of his parachute partially collapsed 15 to 20 feet above ground, sending him into the mountainside.
Crews found him unconscious but breathing. Hill had to be reached by a rescue team that scaled the steep terrain before he was taken by helicopter to the hospital.
“It was amazing to be with so many of his friends and family yesterday in the hospital who came to express their love for Eric,” his sister wrote. “He gave us such a gift of a life fully lived and fully shared, and allowed us all to be a part of his last adventure here on earth.
“It is hard to think of life without his bright spark, but we know he is on to new adventures. We look forward to carrying on his legacy here and greeting him joyfully again someday. I love you so much, little brother!”
The producers of “The Bachelorette” released a statement regarding Hill’s death:
“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. 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.”