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'Wipeout' contestant dies: Father says stroke likely triggered by pre-existing condition

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A 33-year-old California man who briefly participated in a taping of ABC’s Wipeout in late October died on Nov. 5 in Los Angeles from an apparent stroke. The death of  Tom Sparks, which was first reported by an online publication, may have been triggered by a pre-existing blood condition; his father, Bill, released a statement to the Idaho Mountain Express saying that his son had a rare disease that causes clotting.

A spokeswoman for Endemol, which produces Wipeout for ABC, confirmed that Sparks was running the first segment of  the obstacle course on Oct. 19 when he began complaining of knee pain. The man remained in good spirits, even stopping to do an interview with the show’s host, but the producers pulled him from the course, the spokeswoman said. Medics then discovered Sparks was experiencing shortness of breath, so he was taken to the hospital. Endemol learned of his death via a statement posted by the man’s father on a social networking site. The spokeswoman said the production company has not heard from the family.

Endemol requires all show participants to undergo full medical examinations before they are allowed to participate in the game show, though the tests would not necessarily reveal pre-existing conditions. Sparks, a former disc jockey in Idaho, had reportedly completed a marathon before applying to appear on Wipeout.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family,” a joint ABC/Endemol statement read. “This is a tragic loss and our thoughts are with them at this time.”

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