Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Survivor Dan Kay's Sudden Death at 40: Fan Speculation Centers on Suicide

Police aren't investigating, and no one is talking. So suicide seems a likely possibility.

Dan Kay, a former contestant on Survivor: Gabon, died unexpectedly on Dec. 31. He was 40. Kay resided in New Hampshire, said his obituary. His funeral will be held there, in Hillsborough County.

Naturally, Survivor fans are trying to figure out how a visibly healthy 40 year old man died "suddenly and unexpectedly." The County Coroner has confirmed that Kay's death is not being investigated for foul play. Surely he would not have been accepted as a survivor contestant, if he had some congenital defect, such as a heart condition.

It's not entirely clear where Kay died. Kay's obituary and Facebook page both say he was from Brookline, New Hampshire. The Brookline police say they have no report of Kay's death. Likewise, the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner and Coroner have no record of his death. "His death was not reported to us. I don't think he died in NH," Kim Fallon, Chief Forensic Investigator in New Hampshire, said.

The funeral home declined comment, citing privacy concerns. A listing for Kay's mother proved to be disconnected. Even some friends aren't certain how he died. His girlfriend, Jennifer DePietro, told RadarOnline, that Kay's loved ones were grieving and added, "We're not releasing how he passed at this time." RadarOnline reported that the Massachusetts Medical Examiner also had no record of Kay's death.

The local police in Brookline are not investigating Kay's death for possible criminal activity. That seems to leave one looming possibility: That the goodlooking, Christian man killed himself.

"Seeing as it was on NYE, I'm guessing it was a drunk driver. So sad :(" wrote MrUnderdawg

"From my very quick Google searches, it looks as though describing a death as "unexpected" in an obituary is not a good thing. And if so, that's so upsetting." wrote HelicopterPee-Gee

"Yeah unexpected without any further explanation usually means something like a fatal accident (car or otherwise) or foul play. Very sad," wrote funkyParticipation Trophy.

"NOTE: The following is meant to be informative regarding the use of the word "unexpectedly" in public death notices and in no way implies that I have any knowledge of Dan Kay's life or death. "Unexpectedly" used in a public notice of a death is generally indicative of either suicide or a tragic accident." writes Hell-Yes-Im-Biased from Australia.

"I have seen it used when deaths are sudden like a massive heart attack, stroke, or even in the case of a college acquaintance a lethal blood clot 4 days after the birth of her baby via caesarean. :(" writes lovedthebuns.

Kay, an attorney from Brookline, New Hampshire, was born in 1976. He received a bachelor's degree at the University of Massachusettes-Amherst and a law degree from Syracuse University.

Kay practiced law in Boston for five years and used his money to purchase several investment properties. The long hours and stressful environment left him feeling depressed and unfulfilled, so he made a change in his early 30s. He left his job and sold his investments before competing on Survivor: Gabon. "I had my midlife crisis early," he told "It was a big decision to change things up, but I think it'll be better for my life."

Kay's obituary describes his hobbies as "running, skiing, listening to music, and attending Crossway Christian Church" and notes that his "desire to be challenged and his quest for adventure led to his participation on the reality show, Survivor."

Kay was 32 when he competed on the show, which aired in the fall of 2008. As he introduced himself to fellow castaways, Kay said, "Hi I'm Dan. I was an attorney for five years and I am currently finding myself." He lasted 21 days before being voted out after other contestants were concerned that he had a hidden immunity idol.

Survivor host and executive producer Jeff Probst tweeted his condolences on Tuesday after news of Kay's death broke.

"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.

- Jeff Probst (@JeffProbst) January 4, 2017"

Former Survivor contestants also took to social media to express their shock and sorrow at Kay's sudden death. Eliza Orlins, who competed twice on the show, tweeted that she was "devastated" and that the Survivor family "lost a good one."

Gillian Larson, who competed in Gabon with Kay, sent her love and condolences to his family on Facebook, calling Kay's death "terribly sad news."

Kay is the fourth Survivor alumni to pass away since the show premiered. In 2010, Jenn Lyon, who placed fourth on Survivor: Palau, died after a six-year battle with breast cancer. Original Survivor contestant BB Andersen died of brain cancer in 2013 at age 77. In 2014, 26-year-old Blood vs. Water contestant Caleb Bankston was killed in a railway accident.

Dan 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.


Reader Comments(2)

cannonr writes:

the reason there is a picture of Matty is because this ignorant writer is completely misinformed and obviously has no class. I was friends with Dan and can guarantee it was not a suicide. Please let him rest in peace and show some respect to his family.

Anon88 writes:

why do you have a picture of matty?