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Dan Kay, former 'Survivor: Gabon' castaway, dies unexpectedly at age 40


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/04/2017 

Dan Kay, a former Survivor: Gabon castaway, has sadly passed away.

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Kay died unexpectedly at age 40 on Saturday, December 31.

Kay was dubbed a 32-year-old lawyer from Walpole, MA when he competed on Survivor in Fall 2008. He was eliminated from the game on Day 21 after a tribal shuffle because he struggled to bond with his new Kota tribemates, who also feared he had a hidden Immunity Idol. Kay was the eighth castaway voted out overall.

"I just heard the very sad news about the sudden loss of Dan Kay of Survivor: Gabon. The Survivor family sends our love to Dan's family," show host Jeff Probst tweeted Tuesday after the news broke of Kay's death.
   
According to his obituary from the Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory, Kay was born in Norwood, MA, in 1976 and worked as an attorney in New Hampshire prior to his passing. He served as a Supervisory Contracting Officer as a civilian for the U.S. Air Force at Hanscom Air Force Base.

Kay had earned a bachelor's degree from UMass-Amherst and eventually a law degree from Syracuse University.

Kay practiced law in Boston for five years and invested in multiple properties prior to his time on Survivor. He left his daytime job before going on the show, saying he needed a change from the long hours and stressful environment.

"I had my midlife crisis early," Kay told People at the time of his Survivor participation. "It was a big decision to change things up, but I think it'll be better for my life."

During a 2008 interview with Reality TV World, Kay explained he ended up on Survivor after a casting scout approached him at a bar. 

"I was found while watching a Red Sox-Yankees game. It was the very last week of April or the first week of May and I was in a bar having lunch with my best friend and they just came up to me and said "Hey, have you heard of Survivor?" and they sort of talked to me and said 'I like your story, would you like to come out to California?'," he explained.

"So I went out to California and then a few weeks later I was on a plane going out to Africa. It's kind of a neat story."

Kay had a "desire to be challenged and his quest for adventure led to his participation on the reality show, Survivor," reads the obituary, and he enjoyed "running, skiing, listening to music, and attending Crossway Christian Church."

Gillian Larson, who competed on Survivor: Gabon with Kay, tweeted that the news is "terribly sad," while two-time Survivor castaway Eliza Orlins wrote on Twitter that she's "devastated" by the loss of Kay and the franchise "lost a good one."

Kay is survived by his two young children Reese Elizabeth and Jackson "Jax" Russell-Reid, as well as his girlfriend Jennifer DePietro, mother Jean-Ann, and sister Andrea. His wake and funeral will be held on January 7 in Manchester, NH.
   
Kay is the fourth person from the Survivor family to pass away since the long-running reality series premiered on CBS in 2000.

Jenn Lyon -- who finished in fourth place on Survivor: Palau -- died in 2010 following a six-year battle with breast cancer.  Season 1 castaway BB Andersen died of brain cancer in 2013 at age 77. And in 2014, Survivor: Blood vs. Water castaway Caleb Bankston was tragically killed in a railway accident at age 26.


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