Fallout From French ‘Survivor’ Deaths Continues

Franck-Firmin Guion - H 2013

Following the mysterious death of a contestant and the suicide of the show's staff doctor, the production company's CEO takes to the evening news to defend his crew's actions.

Franck-Firmin Guion, CEO of Adventure Line Productions (ALP) defended his company’s actions in an appearance on the news program Le Grand Journal as authorities are gathering information for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Koh-Lanta contestant Gerald Babin, 25, during filming in Cambodia. 

ALP handed the footage from the first day of filming over to French prosecutors on Tuesday, as part of a preliminary inquiry for possible manslaughter charges. Three of the contestants were interviewed Tuesday, and the rest are expected to meet with investigators this week.

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Babin’s family attorney Jeremie Assous claimed that the tapes ended as soon as the contestant complained of cramps. “It is impossible they stopped recording,” Assous said. He implied that the passages involving Babin’s medical assessment had been deliberately cut or withheld. “Part of the record of medical intervention and the evacuation was destroyed.”

Firmin-Guion maintains that all the available footage has been turned over to authorities. He appeared alongside Babin’s fellow contestant Guillaume Lorsan on the news program, who corroborated his version of events.

Babin’s autopsy results revealed no cardiac or vascular abnormality, though they are still waiting toxicology results. Police are also seeking the results of physicals and EKGs performed on all contestants as part of the show’s vetting process. Firmin-Guion said that ALP will cooperate with all investigators’ requests.

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Firmin-Guion provided a detailed, minute-by-minute timeline of what occurred on the scene and emphasized that medical care was not delayed for re-shoots. According to the ALP production crew that was on scene, the physician was called immediately after Babin’s first complaints of cramping, arrived four minutes later and moved Babin to the shade to assess his situation. Babin was first thought to be suffering from dehydration and was moved by boat to the island’s infirmary. The first cardiac arrest happened on the transfer to the infirmary, and Firmin-Guion stated that a helicopter was called immediately and arrived within six minutes. The victim had a second cardiac arrest en route and died shortly after arriving at the hospital. 

ALP stated they intend to file a suit against Closer magazine and radio channel RMC, which cited an anonymous source within the production staff that stated Babin was denied immediate medical treatment so as not to interrupt filming and not evacuated by helicopter because of cost concerns. Staff doctor Thierry Costa committed suicide in Cambodia on Monday, leaving behind a note stating he could not live after his reputation had been “sullied” by the accusations. 

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Laurence Pieau, editor in chief of celebrity gossip magazine Closer, defended her publication's actions. “We have done our work as journalists,” she stated. “We had a witness, a person working on the show. The testimony is anonymous because this person did not want to put his career in jeopardy. We tried to contact ALP during the investigation for a day and a half, and did not have any response.”