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Waited 10 Days for Help! How Sue Aikens Survived a Bear Attack

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Sue Aikens captured the hearts of viewers of “Life Below Zero”, as she chose to live on her own terms in the Alaskan wilderness. Alone, she manages the Kavik River Camp located over 300kms north of the Arctic Circle. Having bears as neighbors, it was said that an encounter with one was inevitable. True enough, she had a harrowing experience with one that left her seriously injured. Many were intrigued that she survived to tell the tale.

Meet Sue Aikens

Sue Aikens was born in 1963, in Mount Prospect, Chicago, Illinois. She was 12 when her mom left her dad and took her to a small town north of Fairbanks, Alaska, only to abandon her afterwards. Instead of dwelling on why her mother did that, she chose to accept the reality of her situation, and figured out how to live on her own. Fortunately for her, an old resident took pity on her, and gave her a rifle and bullets after telling her that she had to learn how to hunt to survive. She matriculated from high school, having learned how to fly a plane at 13, later saying that back then in Alaska, one could do that at such a young age. Over the years, she acquired skills and wisdom in overcoming adversities that fate threw her way. She had two children with her husband of 17 years; the couple remained friends after going their separate ways. In an interview in 2019, she said that her mother is still alive and in her 80s, while her children are in their 30s, with kids of their own.

Her Kavik River Camp

Sue craved isolation; she might love interacting with people and hearing their stories, but only for a limited time. She was averse to living in the city, and the games that people play in society, and so had a passion for the Arctic and the wilderness, founding the Kavik River Camp to be an ideal place for her. It was over 800km away from the nearest city, Fairbanks, and around 130km West from a road. Her address was a GPS coordinate: 146.54 West by 69.4 North.

The former owners were her friends, and they wanted someone to watch and manage the camp. At that time, she ran a trapline along the Jim River, and so they asked her if she could do it. She said that as long as she could bring her dogs and stay there year-round, she was willing to go there. The site was an old oil exploration camp, and was in a dismal state when she arrived. She had second thoughts about living there, but took on the challenge of putting it to rights.

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Before long, she was the one leasing the camp; she was in her 30s then, and transformed the site into some sort of bed & breakfast for scientific researchers, photographers, hunters and eco-tourists, and provided them with logistical support from June to September. It also served as a refilling and search and rescue station. The Kavik River Camp had a 1.25-mile-long airstrip, fuel shed, trailers and outhouses. There was an internet connection so she could conduct her business, and contact her loved ones.

Alone for most of the year, she didn’t feel lonely as she said that she liked herself and found herself hilarious. She didn’t reveal how much money she was making, but did say that while it certainly wouldn’t make her a millionaire, it was allowing her to live the life that she wanted.

Her home away from home

The camp was 19km from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s eastern border. Sue might own the business and the structures at the camp, but she didn’t own the land. She said that her lease had been taken away by the state and was to be auctioned off, so she was only given a temporary permit. Competing with big corporations in a bidding war, it was likely that she would lose. In preparation for that, she bought a property that had two cabins, one old and one new, in Chena Hot Springs, Alaska. It was closer to town than she would have wanted, but it didn’t mean that she wouldn’t be happy living there. Through the years, she worked hard to make it her own, and stays there from time to time, but Kavik is still her home.

Background on “Life Below Zero”

National Geographic first aired the reality television series, “Life Below Zero,” in 2013, which documented the day-to-day struggles and triumphs of individuals living in the remote Alaskan Wilderness. While beautiful, the nature of the landscapes of Alaska was also unforgiving and could be deadly. Each day was a matter of survival, and only a determined few thrived there.

Sue Aikens in “Life Below Zero”

Prior to starring in the hit National Geographic series, Sue Aikens appeared on TV shows although not as a cast member or a guest. She had been in an episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” in 2010, because Kavik River Camp served as the base camp for a hunting party in the show. The following year, she was in a few episodes of Discovery Channel’s “Flying Wild Alaska” when her airstrip was used by a pilot looking for a landing strip in the area. One of the executive producers, Tommy Baynard, became Sue’s friend. He was intrigued by her unusual lifestyle, so when the show was being conceptualized, he asked her if she would consider being part of it. She valued her privacy, but agreed to do the show because the producers were respectful of her, and didn’t try to change her – what made Sue ‘perfect’ for a reality show was her personality. Joe Litzinger, one of the show’s executive producers, said that Sue was quite vocal about her feelings and inner conflicts.

Right from the beginning, viewers realized the level of isolation and risks involved in Sue’s job. For the first episode, she was in Fairbanks preparing for her return to the Kavik River Camp. It had been several months since she had last seen the place, as she was recovering from surgery to repair her broken bone after she had a bad fall in 2011. It was 40 degrees below zero when the plane landed at the airstrip. She armed herself with a rifle as she walked towards her home and inspected the whole place. She also had a shovel with her to clear the way of snow. As the camp was left unattended for quite some time, she discovered that most of her fuel supply was stolen, so had barrels of fuel delivered as soon as possible.

Living at Kavik, one had to have the means to keep warm and to prepare for the worst in case of a storm. She used ropes as a way to get from one place to another when there was zero visibility. One time, the weather was so bad that the plane couldn’t get close, and dropped off 900lbs of supplies and gear by the perimeter. Sue had to move all that through the frozen ground with a pack of wolves hovering nearby. She divided the load into 20-pound packs that she could throw as far as she could, and then did it again and again until she reached the camp.

No matter the struggles, this was the life that she chose, as she said, ‘I love the life that I lead. There’s some twisted part of me that thinks that this is pretty freaking cool.’

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Living in bear territory

Kavik River Camp was right in the middle of grizzly bear territory, so there was a constant threat of an attack by these lethal creatures especially when provoked. Back in 2014, she said that at least 80 bears lived within 10 miles of the camp, that were being monitored. Part of her routine each day was to check for animal tracks in the surrounding area. She would also go up on the roof of a trailer, and with a pair of binoculars, would scan the horizon to see if there was any bear or wolverine near her camp; if so, Sue would fire some rounds to scare them away.

Encounters with the Grizzlies

The first time she landed on Kavik, a bear came out of the fog at the runway and swung at her, but she somehow got to safety. Bears had an incredible sense of smell, and so she was careful with how she stored her food and burned the garbage. However, there must have been a lingering smell that attracted bears to come to her place. One time, as she was sleeping in her quarters, a bear crashed through the wall of her tent. She moved quickly to put some distance between them, and grabbed her rifle. She shot it, causing it to run away; come morning, she found its ear. Since then, Sue made sure that her handgun was within reach of her bed and she had baseball bats stashed in several places. It didn’t mean that she lived in fear of them, but she respected their ability to sneak up on her.

2007 Bear Attack – How did she survive?

She might have escaped her few encounters with bears, but there was one time that she was left at the mercy of one. In 2007, she noticed a juvenile male bear that continually buried its kills on her helipad every night. She called it an ‘alpha push’, as the bear tried to mark her place as its territory. Naturally, she dug up the caribou carcasses by morning and burned them, but believed that’s what enraged the bear.

One day, she went to the river to get water before it totally froze over. She had to use a water pump, and as she needed two hands for this task, she put down her rifle – some might say that she had gotten careless or wasn’t paying attention that time. She said that she did check her surrounding but the bear must have been hiding near the river bank where she couldn’t see it. Before she knew it, the bear attacked her and dragged her into the tundra somewhere between the river and the dining hall. She felt the bear’s teeth penetrate her skull as its jaws were locked onto her head and throat. As she was being mauled and thrown around, she played dead in the hope that the bear would soon leave her alone and that she didn’t bleed out; she wouldn’t have stood a chance had it been an adult grizzly or a black bear, and if that were the case, one shouldn’t play dead but fight back with everything that one had.

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The bear bluff charged her many times before retreating and going back to the river bank. She escaped its clutches, but knew that she was just given a reprieve, and that she had to make her way to the safety of the dining hall. One could only imagine how she got there considering she was in pretty bad shape, with her head torn and her hips out of their sockets. The first thing she did was to clean her wounds to prevent them from becoming infected, and then stitched them up. She called for help from the troopers, but all she got was their answering machine; she tried other people, but wasn’t able to contact them either.

Sue knew she had to deal with the juvenile bear herself, because unless she left the area, it would come back to assert its claim to the territory. She cinched a gun belt tight to support her hips and grabbed another rifle. From past experience, she knew where the bear was headed, so went there and shot it. Her hips gave out on the way back to the dining hall, so she slowly dragged herself to get inside.

For some reason, it took 10 days before anyone showed up. The whole time she was just lying there, waiting. It was terrifying at night when she could hear the sounds of a bear feasting on another animal, and knowing it was only a tent that separated her from that; she was thinking that a bear could barge in at any moment and have her for its next meal. She said that as she was giving off an odor from being unable to get to a restroom as well as whimpering in pain, she was sure that a bear was aware that she was right there. Help finally came as a pilot friend found her and took her to Fairbanks to receive treatment. She had hip surgery and made a full recovery.

Many compared her experience with that of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, a frontiersman, in the 2015 action-drama movie “The Revenant” in which he survived being mauled by a bear and left for dead. Sue’s friends had seen it, and told her not to look at that brutal bear attack scene. She said that she didn’t want to watch it as she was someone who would want to move on.

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Facing her fears

What Sue experienced was quite traumatic, and many wondered how she coped with that, considering she continued to live with bears as her neighbors, but her fervor for living in the wilderness hadn’t diminished; she wasn’t someone who would hunt or kill just because she was afraid. That said, there were things she had to do to protect herself from animals encroaching on her territory. When a bear got too close to her camp, she had to take care of it before it became a serious threat.

Actively pursuing a bear was a big deal for her; it would only take a few seconds for a predator to become prey, so she had to act fast, especially if one spotted her while she was hunting it. A grizzly could run as fast as 56km/hour according to the National Wildlife Federation, so outrunning one was quite impossible. The first shot was going to make a bear mad so she had to make it count. She hit it twice and was quite shaken afterward. She approached the bear slowly and poked it with the end of her rifle in case it was still alive and only injured. The bear wouldn’t go to waste as she’d use the fur for warmth, and meat for food.

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Sue was proud of overcoming her fears, especially as the bear was moving closer to where she was. She said she did this to protect the camp and herself; she wanted her grandkids to still be able to come and visit her. This face-off with a grizzly was just one ‘skirmish’ in what she said was the battle on the Arctic.

In living in a remote place with below-zero temperatures and wild animals abound, Sue said she had to be comfortable with her own death; she’s not seeking it, but isn’t afraid to face it either – everyone has an expiration date, but just doesn’t know when or how it is going to happen. Also, it might take some time before help could arrive, especially during winter. As to whether she planned to stay there forever or retire somewhere else, she said that in having a raven personality, there might come a time when she would be unable to resist something ‘shiny’ on the horizon, and check it out. Until then, she was happy with her life.

As the Managing Editor at The Legit, I direct a dynamic team dedicated to creating rich content that profiles the lives and accomplishments of influential figures. My commitment to detail and storytelling drives the production of biographies that truly engage our audience. I manage all aspects of the editorial process, from conducting thorough research to crafting vivid narratives, all while ensuring the accuracy and quality of our work. At The Legit, our goal is to offer our readers comprehensive profiles that provide deep insights into the realms of business, entertainment, and more. Through diligent research and engaging storytelling, we highlight the exceptional journeys and achievements of those who both inspire and intrigue us.

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What You Never Knew About the Car Guru: Who is Shawn Pilot?

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Being called a car guru is an honor not easily gained by anyone, but Shawn Pilot is merited enough to be called so. Since debuting in “Car Masters: Rust To Riches”, Shawn has gained the audience’s hearts with his vast knowledge about car restoration and customization, on top of his great sense of humor and skillful ways of entertaining viewers.

There’s no doubt that Shawn awakens a sense of curiosity in the audience and fans alike, turning him into a fan favorite in no time, and gaining him enough fame to start his own independent projects.

So do you want to know more about Shawn Pilot? Stay here to discover all the often little-known facts about him, from his personal life, passing to the less-known side of his career on TV, to his best well-kept automotive-related secrets!

Shawn’s Debut

Although Shawn Pilot has become widely known for his appearances in “Car Masters: Rust To Riches”, what many don’t know is that he debuted in the entertainment industry long before this show premiered in 2018.

As it happens, Shawn’s earliest job in the industry dates back to 1999, when he appeared as a berm soldier in the movie “Three Kings”. While his role was small, having some type of acting experience is rather unexpected for a man who is nowadays known for his job in the very different industry of automotive customization.

As well, Shawn’s credit in the movie is somewhat impressive considering he shared the stage with the likes of George Clooney, Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg. Other than that, it’s unknown if Shawn had other uncredited acting roles in movies or TV, but his experience in front of cameras is noticeable to anyone who has ever watched “Car Masters”.

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He Was In Another Car Series

After debuting in a 1999 movie as an actor, Shawn Pilot’s first unscripted appearance on the small screen came in 2011, with the series “Inside West Coast Customs”. Centered on the California-based business West Coast Customs and its owner Ryan Friedlinghaus, the show introduced the audience to amazing car restorations, and the process behind them.

Shawn appeared in the episode “Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas” from the second season, in which the staff restored and mixed a 1958 Corvette with a C6 for the famous hip-hop singer and producer. Given that Shawn’s specialty is Corvettes, he was of great help in the process of finding the right cars to conceptualize, and make Will.I.Am’s vision come alive.

 

The ending result was the Willvette, a red-painted futuristic-looking car which perfectly combines the best parts of the older and modern Corvettes, both on the outside and inside. It was undeniably a great addition to Shawn’s job resume in the automotive world, and also proves that he’s been doing his thing in the automotive world for quite some time.

He’s Been To Great Car Shows

The car world is a big passion of Shawn Pilot, even when cameras aren’t rolling. As seen on his social media, he’s often present at some of the industry’s most coveted events, such as the Specialty Equipment Market Association, generally known as SEMA’s show.

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While it’s unclear if Shawn attends these events to promote some of Gotham Garage’s customization works, or as a celebrity guest, that hasn’t stopped him from enjoying the experience no end. Fans also enjoy the thrill of meeting their favorite “Car Masters” dealer in person, as the several tagged photos of Shawn with fans on Instagram easily demonstrate.

He’s a Very Private Person

Though it’s usual for reality TV stars to exploit their public image for the sake of money and fame, that’s not the case with Shawn Pilot. Despite having accumulated several thousand followers on Instagram so far, Shawn’s posts to date aren’t numerous, and are posted at long intervals. The oldest photos on his account date back to 2018, which makes it impossible to trace his life prior to the show’s premiere.

On top of having no public Facebook account for fans, Shawn also remains inactive on his personal profile on the platform.

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While this choice for privacy is rarely noted in a TV star, Shawn has let us know some personal details about himself, such as his closeness with his mom Carol, who appeared in the fourth season of “Car Masters” as a guest, and wore matching race suits with her son. It’s also known that Shawn has a daughter and two grandchildren, but further information about his romantic life or partners – past or present -hasn’t been revealed.

He’s Popular & Quite Rich

Given how well-liked Shawn Pilot is by the “Car Masters” audience, it’s truly unsurprising that he’s quite an agreeable personality, and is easily liked by people everywhere. Besides the fact that his Instagram account has almost 30,000 followers, despite being rarely updated, Shawn has proved his knack for catching viewers’ attention with his original and very popular YouTube content.

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After sharing his first video on the platform in March 2023, Shawn gained over 30,000 subscribers and hundreds of thousands of views in less than a month, a very impressive accomplishment, especially considering that his channel had remained inactive since he started it in 2013.

Regarding Shawn’s financial details, several online sources point to his net worth being a modest $500,000 as of April 2023. While he’s refrained from revealing whether this figure comes from his job on TV and as a car dealer, it’s safe to assume a huge part of it comes from his profitable hobby as a poker player.

As registered on some websites such as CardPlayer.com, Shawn has earned around $373,894 in tournaments since he debuted as a professional poker player in the late 2000s. His best winning night was in 2009, when he won $39,663 in one go, which is quite impressive.

He’s A Corvette Guy

Shawn Pilot’s love for Corvettes has been more than evident in his appearances in “Car Masters”, and it’s the same for his everyday life. As it happens, Shawn’s YouTube channel not only makes sure to showcase his love for Corvettes and good deals but is also part of his new project VetteRod, with which he plans to brand himself as a connoisseur of this car brand.

As read on VetteRod’s official website, Shawn considers himself a ‘genuine Corvette freak’ and is the proud owner of over 100 of them, including the black and red stripped-out Corvette Z51, which was introduced in the show as the Vette Kart., suggesting that these aren’t included in his estimated net worth.

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Shawn’s love for ‘Vettes goes from finding them somewhere on the internet, to making a deal after assessing the car’s body and engine conditions, before finally taking them to his Los Angeles shop to fix them. Some of his Corvettes end up on sale, but others are added to his large collection. The couple of videos on Shawn’s YouTube channel also let us see that not only is he vastly knowledgeable when it comes to solving issues under a car’s hood, but has a great talent as a host.

All in all, Shawn’s off and on-screen career has been amazing so far. Going from the times he had a small role in a Hollywood film, then becoming a reality TV star, to finally creating his original online content, it’s clear that Shawn and his VetteRod have a bright future ahead.

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Captain Sig Hansen Faces a Lawsuit from a “Deadliest Catch” Deckhand

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The tough captain of the fishing vessel Northwestern, Captain Sig Hansen, became one of the most recognized reality television personalities through the hit series “Deadliest Catch.” His amazing exploits in the treacherous waters of the Bering Sea was well documented by Discovery Channel since the TV show was launched in 2005. His journey with the show had been smooth sailing until he faced a lawsuit filed by a former deckhand, citing inadequate and delayed medical treatment for his abdominal pain, which resulted in an emergency operation along with the discovery of a more serious medical condition.

Get to know Captain Sig Hansen

Sig Hansen was arguably the most popular crab fishing captain in the reality TV series “Deadliest Catch.” His success in the industry was primarily due to his family background.

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Growing up years and family

Sigurd Jonny Hansen was born on 28 April 1966, in a Scandinavian fishing community in Seattle, Washington State. Initially, his parents, Sverre and Snefryd, debated on whose father would be their eldest child’s namesake. Eventually, his father won and he was named after his grandfather, Sigurd. To ensure that his other grandfather, Jakob, wouldn’t be left out, Sig was christened with a second name Jonny as a tribute to him. Apparently in Norway, if a person wasn’t chosen to be the baby’s namesake, it was considered an honor to choose one that began with the same letter of his name. However, Sig recalled that being given such a name, Sigurd Jonny meant getting into many fistfights growing up in 1970s America, as he was oftentimes teased by friends and classmates. The family moved out from to Shoreline, Washington State, to a bigger house with a yard. He has two younger brothers named Edgar and Norman.

He grew up surrounded by Norwegians, Swedes and Danes; most never really spoke English unless they needed to. There was a time when he was in elementary when Sig went home with a note from his teacher addressed to his parents telling them, ‘TEACH HIM ENGLISH. STOP SPEAKING NORWEGIAN.’ They didn’t attend PTA meetings as his father was out at sea nine months a year, and his mom only spoke English when paying bills or buying groceries.

His family’s fishing legacy

Sig came from a long line of Norwegian fishermen, sailors, merchant marine workers, and captains. His father, Sverre, was also a captain of a fishing vessel just like his grandfather before him. When the fishing industry around Seattle declined back then, he and a few brave and adventurous fishermen went farther North to explore the Bering Sea. They couldn’t believe their luck when they found an immense treasure in the form of Red King crabs. Today, Sverre is widely acknowledged as one of the pioneers in the crab industry in Alaska. Dutch Harbor wasn’t as popular and successful as it had been in the last two decades; at that time, it was only a few Japanese and local trawlers who had been catching crabs, but when the Norwegians and Americans developed the boxlike steel traps, they amassed a fortune. It was from a bygone era when fishermen mostly relied on experience, gut instinct, and a whole lot of luck to make it home alive with huge hauls of crabs, without the assistance of technology. Some people in Sig’s family were swept overboard, and it didn’t matter if they did everything right, the Bering Sea was just brutal so even the most cautious men perished at sea.

His fishing background

Captain Sig Hansen started fishing at the young age of 12, and was mainly taught by his father. He was already aware of how dangerous their profession was, as he grew up watching his grandfather walk around with crutches because of it, however, it didn’t deter him from dreaming of becoming just like them. His mother knew right from the beginning that he would continue the family legacy, as the young Sig would draw boats and crab pots instead of practicing how to write the alphabet. Initially, he had a terrible bout of seasickness, but he eventually became used to the rough waves. Aside from watching his father do his job aboard the family-owned fishing vessel called Northwestern, he also accompanied his uncle on fishing exploits. However, his first real fishing job was under his father’s friend who never hired greenhorns, but took him in as a favor. Sig’s father equipped him well with the best fishing gear and a piece of solid advice that he followed to the letter. ‘Keep your mouth shut, do what he tells you, and everything will be fine.’

Sig Hansen and his journey in “Deadliest Catch”

Captain Sig Hansen often considered the Bering Sea as the major league of the fishing industry and Dutch Harbor as Yankee Stadium. He was used to playing in the biggest game, competing with the biggest boats, and making the biggest paychecks in a place with the biggest egos. However, he never thought that his job would have him working under the beaming lights of Hollywood, as he became part of the original cast of a reality TV show. He often wondered how it would be if his father was still around when it all happened.

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What was “Deadliest Catch” all about?

Hunting for the Alaskan king crabs was not for the faint of heart. Crab fishing wasn’t only challenging but quite unpredictable as well. Most of the time, the weather didn’t co-operate, and the crabs would forever play hide and seek, which made it great for TV. A documentary about this profession was turned into a fully-fledged reality show called “Deadliest Catch.” The TV show presented the fearless fishermen who would battle it out with the raging waves of the cold Bering Sea as they navigated their way to the fishing spots where crab populations continued to shift, depending on several factors including climate change. The series premiered on 12 April 2005, and has been on the air for 19 seasons and counting, produced by Original Productions for Discovery Channel.

Captain Sig’s crew of the F/V Northwestern

The F/V Northwestern had been under Captain Sig’s helm for the past three decades. It wouldn’t be as successful as it had been for many years if not for the support of his fishing family and his dedicated crew that worked alongside him. It had been one of the original fishing boats featured in “Deadliest Catch,” and throughout the years, viewers became familiar with his crew. Some had been with him from the start, but due to the nature of the job, there had been changes over time. Both of the Captain’s younger brothers were part of the Northwestern crew. Edgar worked as the ship’s deck boss and engineer while Norman would alternate as the cook and deckhand, or take responsibility for whatever was needed to be done in the boat. A few seasoned deckhands such as Matt Bradley and Nick Mavar Jr. were the notable ones, but they left the boat for different reasons in 2020. Nick’s nephew, Jake Anderson was also part of the crew for a time, but went on to be the captain of another fishing vessel later on. In recent seasons, the captain’s other family members came in to contribute their skills and expertise to catching crabs including his wife June and his adopted daughter, Maddy, whom he was grooming to be his successor when he hired her back in 2009.

Notable accidents at sea

In every fishing vessel, it was expected that aside from the captain and deckhands, there would be mechanics and welders who could practically fix just about anything, so any incidents that would occur due to the force of nature or overworked machines could be immediately corrected. For instance, a fire broke out in the 9th episode of the 12th season of “Deadliest Catch.” The boat lost its power without any warning, but Captain Sig told everyone to stay calm as his crew put out the fire, and the engineer assessed the problem. Their priority was to isolate the damaged breakers so that they could still use enough power to get the crab pots from the sea before returning to port. During the same season, a part of the boat’s bow cracked as they were hit by a 35-foot rogue wave. He said, ‘I hope we have something in our gear, man, that’s all I can say.’ The F/V Northwestern was lucky enough that for all the years it was at sea, it only had one collision with another boat, in March 2019 as it was nearing Dutch Harbor. The other fishing vessel was cruising out of control and crashed straight into Captain Sig’s boat. While neither boas sustained overwhelming damage, it was a clear reminder that accidents do happen even with a calmer sea and in good weather.

Captain Sig Hansen’s health struggles at sea

Health challenges also occurred at sea, mostly because of extreme exhaustion due to long hours of hard work and an unhealthy lifestyle. Captain Sig Hansen had a severe head injury in the 1990s, when a metal block struck him on his head.  While it didn’t result in a serious long-term effect on him, it was a painful lesson to learn to be extra cautious while on deck. He suffered a heart attack in March 2016, captured in “Deadliest Catch” along with the medical evacuation so he could be rushed to a hospital in Anchorage. The tests revealed that he needed emergency surgery since an artery had burst. His doctor said that he was lucky because what he had was what they called the “widow maker.” However, after eight months, he was back at sea. There was also a time when the deckhands noticed that he became incoherent, so a producer fetched his brother Edgar from the engineering bay to check on him, but he couldn’t be convinced to call it a day. Edgar then called Sig’s wife back home and that was only the time he agreed to rest in his cabin.

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Success in catching crabs

Due to his extensive experience in crab fishing, Captain Sig would often come home with a huge haul of crabs. During the second season of the reality TV show, his crew was ecstatic that they returned with crabs worth over $1 million. When his tanks were full, he immediately put the boat at top speed because the price of his haul would drop the next day if he couldn’t deliver them to the processing plant in time. In 2019, with his adopted daughter Mandy as relief captain, the F/V Northwestern recorded a staggering catch, and the crew went home with more crabs than they anticipated. The Captain then knew that he could retire anytime he wanted to, because the business was in safe hands. However, the problem was that he didn’t want to stop working. He said in an interview, ‘I can’t stop, that’s the problem. All of us are egomaniacs. You want to stop, but the ego portion won’t let me stop.’

Captain Sig Hansen’s controversial lawsuits

The more Captain Sig Hansen became popular, the more he was embroiled in several rumors and possible controversies. Most of them were unfounded, but a few of them became much-talked about especially on social media platforms due to the scandalous nature of the issue.

Abuse allegations by a daughter from a previous marriage

“Deadliest Catch” fans were surprised when reports circulated on blog sites that Captain Sig Hansen’s biological estranged daughter named Melissa Eckstrom from his previous marriage made allegations that her father sexually abused her when she was about two years old; it was during the time when her parents were in the process of divorcing in 1990. The adult Melissa said that she went into depression, had suicidal tendencies and eating disorders during her childhood because of the incident. She said that the memory of his abuse was still prevalent in her memory. Based on court records, the prosecutor back then didn’t file a case as they knew they couldn’t prove the allegations, even if they believed Melissa was sexually abused. The F/V Northwestern captain denied the accusations and claimed, ‘This is nothing more than an old-fashioned shakedown.’ Sig said that the lawsuit was some sort of blackmail, and reiterated that it was full of lies concocted by his ex-wife when she took their daughter away from him. It was also used in her attempts to get money from him. Apparently, after the divorce, the captain relinquished all his parental rights, as he thought it would be the best decision for his daughter.

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In 2010, Melissa reached out to Sig to ask for help to pay her law school fees, and Sig assigned a mediator to ensure everything was properly documented. However, it didn’t push through as his daughter and ex-wife wanted Sig to pay $300,000 or else they would go to the press. He then filed a police report of what he believed was extortion. When the police intervened, his ex-wife said that he abused their daughter, and that he never paid the support money worth $50,000 as agreed upon during the divorce, which Sig vehemently denied. His lawyers said that they paid for it, and that the case should be dismissed since it was already proven in the past that he didn’t abuse his daughter – it would be a case of double jeopardy. Later, during an interview, Melissa said that she wasn’t after his father’s money, but was asking for justice for what he did to her. A $1.5 million settlement was supposed to close all the issues in 2016, but the mediation fell apart because Sig’s lawyers insisted that if any word from the agreement was leaked to the public, Melissa would lose her lawyer’s license, insisting on that to protect Sig and his family. The case was still in the hands of the Court of Appeals, as they would decide if there was any new evidence to reopen the case.

Former deckhand sued F/V Northwestern’s Captain in 2023

Before 2022 ended, and just a few months after the Captain and his daughter headlined their own spin-off series called “Deadliest Catch: The Viking Returns,” they were greeted by a lawsuit. Nick Mavar Jr., a former deckhand on the F/V Northwestern, filed a lawsuit against Sig Hansen and other owners of the boat, demanding $1 million in damages for failure to provide medical help during the Covid-19 pandemic. He also cited that the delay in an adequate examination of his abdominal pain onboard the fishing vessel led to his appendix rupturing and the late discovery of a tumor, which proved to be cancerous. Nick suffered many illnesses including infections that led to more complications and surgeries.

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Captain Sig and the other owners of the boat denied liability in Nick’s personal injury lawsuit. They shifted the blame to Original Productions, the production company of “Deadliest Catch,” and Trifecta Solutions LLC, the subcontractor that they hired to provide medical support for the crew of the boat. Apparently, when Nick complained of abdominal pain, the company’s medics checked on him multiple times but failed to act on it with urgency. Captain Sig and other Northwestern’s owners, through their lawyers LeGros Buchanan and Paul, sought for damages associated to what happened to Nick’s medical care. Despite the ongoing lawsuits, Captain Sig and his daughter Maddy were seen in the 19th season of the reality TV show, which started to air in April 2023.

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Mama June’s Health Condition

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June Shannon, better known as Mama June, became a reality TV star when TLC gave her and her daughter the TV show “Honey Boo Boo,” in August 2012. Although it was canceled in August 2014, she didn’t disappear into obscurity. Instead, Mama June rebranded herself through her weight loss journey, and WE tv granted her the TV show, “Mama June: From Not to Hot,” in 2017. Sadly, that’s also when her health problems began; she experienced vision loss and had several surgical opertions. Then, after regaining the weight that she’d lost, she made things worse by ecoming addicted to cocaine, and was subsequetly arrested with her boyfriend in 2019.

However, what worried her fans the most was her struggle to control her lymphatic system, which threatened her life in 2021. Despite alleviating the pain and swelling, Mama June ran into a new set of issues, with lightheadedness and migraines in September 2022. Still, doctors couldn’t diagnose her with anything specific. Mama June’s journey to find what has been ailing her is the main topic of the sixth season of her show on WE tv; we’ve compiled a list of her symptoms to see if we can guess the reason.

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Mama June’s eye damage could have had consequences

All viewers eventually noticed that Mama June squints frequently, and that her eyes seem out of the ordinary. However, it wasn’t until one episode of “Mama June: From Not to Hot” in 2018 that she revealed the cause. After experiencing eye problems, she said, ‘”I’m totally scared about losing my vision. I feel like I’m going to lose my independence, and it’s really starting to weigh on me.’

She revealed in a confessional that she was born with cataracts in both eyes but that her parents didn’t intervene, consequently, she went blind in her right eye in 2014. However, nothing happened to her left eye until that fateful episode when she woke up blind. That prompted her then-boyfriend Geno and daughter Alana “Honey Boo Boo” to take her to the hospital.

After doctors diagnosed her with a detached retina, Mama June underwent four eye opertions to correct the damage – one included applying a scleral buckle to attach the retina to the eye and restore her eyesight. Despite her fears that she won’t see her daughter’s baby since Lauryn “Pumpkin” Shannon’s delivery date was approaching, she never complained about her eyesight again until 2022. However, Mama June briefly gained weight since she couldn’t exercise, and started living a sedentary lifestyle. She also felt slightly depressed, because she had to rely on others for everyday tasks.

She struggled with drug addiction

Police officers booked her and her then-boyfriend Geno Doak for having drug paraphernalia in their car on 13 March 2019, and for threats of violence. They pleaded guilty in October, attended drug rehab, the went their separate ways afterwards. Mama June later admitted to spending $3,000 daily on her drug habit, and over $1 million on her cocaine habit. That ruined her family dynamics, for obvious reasons, and her finances; she spent that year slowly selling everything she owned in garage sales. That also destroyed her relationships with neighbors and fans since she ignored their warnings.

Mama June received bad news over two years ago

Her addition and cataracts were worrying from the get-go, but not to the point of requiring emergency care. What scared everyone was her sudden prediction that she could ‘die within six months,’ which was allegedly confirmed by the doctor. In an episode of her family show, aired on 26 March 2021, her sister Doe Doe asked her why she was using a walker, suspecting that drugs were the cause.

Mama June rejected that claim, and explained to her audience and her sister that her doctor, who removed fat from her chin, told her that he thought that she had lymphedema and lipidemia. The former illness is a swelling caused by the build-up of the body’s lymph fluid, causing tingling sensations, feelings of heavy limbs, pain, and more. Lipidemia suggests the presence of extra lipids or fats in the blood, and irregular distribution of fat across the body.

According to the doctor, Mama June had reached a worrying point. She was at stage 3 of lymphedema, meaning that fibro adipose tissue began accumulating in her skin, and that she had skin changes. After his explanation, she realized that the disease, not obesity, caused her uneven limbs. Mama June explained that her left leg was larger than the right by 13in or 33cms. Similarly, her left arm was 27in or 68cms in diameter while her left was 6in or 15cms smaller. After the episode aired, Mama posted on Twitter that she wanted to inspire other women to check if they have the same condition. She credited Dr. Schwartz for enlightening her; lymphedema is more common in larger women and is often misdiagnosed as cellulitis or morbid obesity.

She was hospitalized last September

News broke in September 2022 that Mama June had to be hospitalized. When she was released from the hospital, she explained that she’d begun experiencing dizziness and headaches routinely, but swore that she didn’t experiment with alcohol or drugs. Nonetheless, despite performing various tests and scans, the doctors didn’t identify the cause of Mama June’s problems.

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Mama June’s weight loss helped minimally

Her struggles with lipidemia confused some followers who thought that her weight loss would help her condition. Additionally, Mama June underwent a gastric sleeve, tummy tuck, and other cosmetic operations. Additionally, her nutritionist likely recommended a diet with low carbohydrates and high-fat macronutrients. After combining an operation, proper diet and exercising with Atlanta-based personal trainer Kenya Crooks, Mama June lost about 300lbs or 135kgs from her peak weight.

Unfortunately, medical research shows that lipedema fat cells are nearly immune to diet and exercise. Some experiments suggest that a ketogenic diet reduces pain and swelling and mildly affects the loss of actual fat; hence, it is the go-to diet.

Nonetheless, in the absence of a cure, patients who want to reduce the number of fat cells must choose an operation, usually liposuction or lymphatic drainage. Therefore, Mama June likely started doing aqua aerobics, yoga, pilates, and wearing compression garments, all promoting lymph flow.

Her daughter also had an abnormal growth

Another scary bit of information is that her daughter, Anna “Chickadee” Cardwell, had a stage 4 adrenal carcinoma in January 2023 after complaining of stomach and back pain. Although she initially only had a cyst, which they removed, the doctors later discovered that the cancer had reached her lungs, spleen and liver. Anna seemed to be recovering, and had a scan on 6 May to assess the situation, but she hasn’t shared the results. That type of cancer predominantly attacks children and middle-aged adults, meaning that Mama June is at risk based on her age and genetics. However, her issues a few months before the diagnosis were too mild to say for sure, and doctors did not want to rush to conclusions.

She encountered new medical issues this May

While she seems to be taking care of her illness, Mama June started experiencing different symptoms during the sixth season of her show, “Mama June: Family Crisis.” In the debut episode aired on 5 May 2023, the cameras follow her and her new husband, Justin Stroud, as they relocated to Alabama without notifying any of her children.

While having breakfast and discussing their marriage, Mama June started complaining to her husband about unusual symptoms, that she’d began losing feeling in half of her body and face.

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Mama June’s symptoms contiued, and Justin took her to the emergency room the next day, but she received no conclusive diagnosis. Therefore, viewers had to speculate on what happened, which could be intentional; it boosts the reality TV show’s viewer base. Based on her known medical history, a lymphedema flare-up was the predominant guess on the Internet. However, one of her daughters was immediately suspicious that June was taking drugs after three years of sobriety and that she was having a bad reaction.

Mama June’s medical condition is still unknown

When accused of drug relapse, Mama June commented, ‘I’m getting tired of having severe headaches and not being able to think… I’m getting tired of being dizzy and not being able to see straight.’ She indirectly denied the accusations, and stated that she couldn’t have taken drugs even if she wanted, as her prior drug addiction makes doctors suspicious, and they think that she fakes symptoms to obtain painkiller prescriptions. However, she’s now sought new doctors who would take her seriously, because ‘she was tired of tests coming back normal’, and refusals.

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Mama June wanted to run more tests and do extra bloodwork to determine what was happening. Unfortunately, according to her, good doctors have a busy schedule; hence, she needs six or seven months to get them to see her. Her eyes could be causing the issues with headaches and dizziness, however, it might be something that she hid, too; losing feeling in one half of her body may indicate a stroke; some reports were that Mama June ‘had mini-strokes’ in September 2022.

Also, that wasn’t the first time that she’d kept some things to herself. For example, while she was open about her drug habit, she didn’t reveal one detail until recently. During a recent discussion about her health issues, Mama June off-handedly mentioned that snorting cocaine damaged her vision, forcing her to transition to smoking crack cocaine. Regardless, she’s adamant that drugs aren’t the root cause of the problem.

Her family will keep her accountable

Although something is wrong with her body, Mama June has improved her mental health. She recently got her priorities straight and started focusing on her family; her biggest criticism was prioritizing her former relationships over caring for her daughters. Early in 2023, after constantly traveling back and forth to her, Mama June welcomed her daughter Anna into her Alabama home and tended to her during cancer treatments.

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Moreover, she was overcome with guilt over spending so much money on drugs, and now handles finances responsibly. Her family thinks that she’s taking it to the extreme; she admits to being a penny pincher, while her husband calls her a money hoarder.

Overall, Mama June is dedicated to her and her family’s health, and is eager to find the cause of her mysterious illness by seeing the right doctor. She also stopped denying help and accusations of bad behavior or poor self-accountability. Most importantly, she is honest about her symptoms, and refuses to take unnecessary drugs, increasing her chances of finding a professional willing to dig deeper.

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