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`Wipeout' Reality Show Contestant Tom Sparks Dies After ABC Show

(ABC)
A Contestant on ABC's "Wipeout."

LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) It is safe to say that when Tom Sparks signed up to be a contestant on the game show "Wipeout" he had no idea what would follow his participation in the ABC primetime show.

The former radio disc jockey was hospitalized after competing in the first segment of an obstacle course Oct. 19, and ultimately died two weeks later of a stroke apparently caused by a rare condition, according to his father.

Sparks, 33, was examined by on-set medics when he complained of knee pain, who noticed he was short of breath and took him to a local hospital, according to Endemol, the company which produces "Wipeout" for ABC.

Sparks was moved to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and underwent several brain surgeries, according to TheWrap.com, which first reported on the Nov. 5 death. Sparks couldn't be saved because of the brain damage that had occurred, the Web site said, citing an e-mail to alumni from a faculty member at Sparks' alma mater.

Sparks, a former Sun Valley, Idaho, radio disc jockey, earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California and later earned a master's degree from the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

In a statement to the Idaho Mountain Express and Guide, Bill Sparks, his father, said doctors determined the stroke probably was caused by antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, known as APS.

APS is associated with recurrent clotting events including premature stroke and heart attack, according to the APS Foundation of America Inc.'s Web site.

"Wipeout" contestants undergo medical examinations before they are cleared for the show, Endemol said. However, the diagnosis of APS requires specialized blood tests, the foundation said on its site.

"We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family," ABC and Endemol said in a joint statement. "This is a tragic loss and our thoughts are with them at this time."

Sparks, who was a runner and recently competed in a marathon, had just married and was competing on "Wipeout" with his wife, Kate, on a couples episode.

The show is in production for the third season, premiering next summer.
  • Ryan Smith

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