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'Bachelorette' deals with death of Eric Hill

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
updated 11:57 AM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Andi Dorfman talks with Eric Hill on the season premiere of
Andi Dorfman talks with Eric Hill on the season premiere of "The Bachelorette."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Andi Dorfman learned of Eric Hill's death on Monday's episode
  • She broke down sobbing
  • The show's host defended the episode

(CNN) -- Historically the hometown dates on "The Bachelorette" can be fraught with a touch of anxiety, but on Monday night's episode there was an abundance of grief.

The ABC reality series dealt with the death of contestant Eric Hill, who perished in a paragliding accident following his stint on the show. Hill was one of 25 bachelors vying for the heart of Andi Dorfman.

Former "Survivor" contestant Caleb Bankston died while working on a coal train near Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday, June 24, a railway official confirmed to CNN. Bankston, 27, was a contestant on "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" last year, along with his fiance, Colton Cumbie, according to the CBS show's website. Former "Survivor" contestant Caleb Bankston died while working on a coal train near Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday, June 24, a railway official confirmed to CNN. Bankston, 27, was a contestant on "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" last year, along with his fiance, Colton Cumbie, according to the CBS show's website.
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Dorfman visited the hometowns of the four remaining contestants, but the show took a dramatic turn when host Chris Harrison had to inform the group of Hill's passing.

"I know this is a little unorthodox," Harrison said. "You all know Eric Hill. He, a couple of days ago, was in Utah paragliding and was in a serious accident. We knew he was hurt bad, but we just didn't know how bad. We learned this morning that he passed away. Obviously I'm really sorry to be the one to have to tell you. But as soon as we found out, I definitely wanted every one of you guys to know as fast as we could."

Dorfman broke down in tears and one of the bachelors, Marcus Grodd, had to leave the room. Dorfman was later shown sobbing and lamenting the fact that Hill was eliminated from the show after the pair had a disagreement.

"I kicked him out," she said. "I can't believe that was my last conversation with him."

Dorfman also rallied to help the others deal with the tragedy. "It just puts in perspective all of this -- there's so much more to all of this," she told them. "There's life, people have lives here."

In his blog about the show for EW, Harrison defended the decision to include the heartbreak in the episode.

"There were those who didn't think we should shoot it at all and not include this news," he wrote. "I vehemently disagreed. I thought we should not only shoot it, but felt we should include it on this show for you to see as well. I knew this was going to be a brutally sad moment for all of us, but that's why I felt so strongly we should show it."

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