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'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' castaway Caleb Bankston dead at age 26 from train accident


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/25/2014 

Caleb Bankston, who competed on Survivor: Blood vs. Water with fiance Colton Cumbie, has died at age 26.

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Bankston, an employee at the Alabama Warrior Railway in Birmingham, died when he was aboard a train that derailed on Tuesday, People reported.

No further details regarding the accident have been released.

Bankston's Survivor: Blood vs. Water edition aired in 2013 and he finished the game in ninth place. Bankston's elimination was a result of losing a Redemption Island duel to returning players Tina Wesson and Laura Morett. He was known for being Cumbie's rock during the game, as Cumbie was a two-time controversial castaway.

Fellow former Survivor castaways Aras Baskauskas, who also competed on Blood vs. Water, and Sabrina Thompson, who appeared on Survivor: One World with Cumbie, have spoken out about Bankston's memory.

"Caleb was an amazing man and friend," Baskauskas told People. "One of the sweetest and most sincere humans I've ever come across. I am gutted by his loss. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Thompson added, "While playing Survivor with Colton, he would talk about his boyfriend, Caleb, around the clock 24/7. Within seconds of meeting Caleb at the finale and Survivor events, it's no wonder why he raved about him. You were instantly drawn to his big smile, warm spirit and Southern charm. May God rest his soul -- gone too soon."

Bankston had been planning a fall wedding with Cumbie.

"October 11 in Connecticut. We found a little country place that we rented out where we're going to do it. It's country enough for me but it's still upscale enough for Colton, so we made a good compromise on that... Alabama is not exactly accepting of same-sex marriages," Bankston told Reality TV World in an exclusive interview December 2013.

"So yeah, we thought about Vermont, but in October, you kind of are gambling with the snow, and we both love fall -- the colors and everything -- and Connecticut just seems, that New England coastline is just going to be beautiful. We're going to try to go up to [New Jersey]."

Bankston is the third Survivor contestant to have passed away. Survivor: Palau's Jenn Lyon died in 2010 from breast cancer, while first-season Survivor castaway BB Andersen died of brain cancer at age 77.

(Photo credit CBS)


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