‘Greatest fear’ realised: Survivor star's harrowing exit
Survivor: All-Stars contestant Lee Carseldine exited the game amid truly harrowing circumstances in Monday night's episode after learning his mother had suffered a massive stroke.
Tragically, she died before he was able to make it home.
The Survivor tribe had just returned to camp after a reward challenge when real life suddenly intruded into the game, a producer summoning Lee to take an emergency phone call.
Former professional cricketer Lee, 44, left camp to take the call as his stunned tribemates wondered what could've happened to necessitate the breach of usual Survivor rules.
Cameras kept their distance as Lee took the news:
As a visibly distressed Lee lingered outside camp, tribemate Tarzan went to find his friend.
"What's going on, mate? What's the matter?" he asked, as Lee collapsed into his arms sobbing.
"Mum's had a massive stroke … and they don't think she's going to make it," Lee said. "I've got to go home. It's real bad."
Tarzan was clearly shaken by the news: "We don't know what's going on with our families. We've got no idea. The last thing you want is that kind of a phone call," he said.
It was clear Lee needed to leave the game immediately - but he returned to camp one final time to tell his fellow contestants what had happened.
"The man was playing with such great passion and tenacity. It's such a testimony that he wanted to share the moment with us, as a family," Tarzan said.
Returning to camp, Lee shared the awful news with the rest of the tribe. "I've got to go home and be with the family. I just want you all to know - it's been a privilege to hang out with you guys for the last 33 days," he said.
Fellow contestant David Genat summed up why Lee's news had been devastating for the whole tribe: "It was honestly just brutal. Everyone's greatest fear being on Survivor is something happening on the outside world," he said.
As Lee collected his belongings and left camp for the long journey home from Fiji, Tarzan said his departing friend "would be feeling like his heart's getting ripped out. He's going to have to be a champion for his family when he gets home.
"Lee just wanted to make his mum proud - and I'm sure he's done that."
LEE TALKS TO NEWS. COM. AU: 'IT'S BEEN BRUTAL'
Speaking to news.com.au hours before Monday night's episode aired, Lee opened up about what that day was like and how he's coping five months after the death of his mum, Elizabeth "Beppie" May Carseldine.
He said he had been bracing himself for the episode's airing.
"With this whole experience, you have to relive it, and that's probably the hardest thing. All of Australia's going to watch it … It almost feels like it's happening again, right now. It's a really weird situation to be in," he said.
Lee was recently given an advance copy of the episode, which he watched with close family members, an experience he described as "brutal": "That was a tough room to be in, for everybody."
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
He said it had been his decision alone to return to camp and say his goodbyes on camera, and praised the producers who he said were "very respectful and never shoved the cameras in my face - there was no interference from them telling me what to do whatsoever."
Packing up his few belongings, Lee walked out of camp on foot and hopped into a waiting car - and that's where the cameras stopped.
He told news.com.au that the call had come late in the day, and with Survivor filmed at a remote location on the Fijian island of Vanua Levu, he wasn't able to get on a flight that night. Taken to a hotel for the evening, he received the devastating update that his mum had died.
"I woke up the next morning and made my way to a flight - it was probably a good 24 hours (from the initial call) until I got home. It was probably one of the loneliest times I've ever experienced," he said.
LEE'S HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
View this post on Instagram
It’s the first time ever that I have been dreading Xmas. It’s the first one without my mum. Its going to be a tough one and we are cooking mums dishes she’s cooked for the last 30 Years to take to the farm ... Mum will only want us to be happy and celebrate... as bloody hard it will be. So to those who have lost love ones...whether it was a year ago or 20 years ago, extra love and support to get through this Xmas is coming your way. Let’s all look after each other on this special day. Much love. ❤️🙏🏼❤️ . . #xmas2019 #xmas #family #lovedones #mum
Lee told news.com.au that he'll be working with the Stroke Foundation in the coming months to raise awareness of the devastating impact of stroke.
"My dad suffered a stroke 14 years ago - now it's taken my mum's life. I had no idea it was so prevalent, and how much it takes life away," he said.
"Getting that call is the worst feeling in the world, it's so heartbreaking. Anyone who's suffered a sudden loss in their life will understand what I've gone through, including the guilt you feel for being away from home."
And after placing second on his first season of Survivor and having to exit the game amid tragedy this time around, Lee said he was in no hurry to rush back.
"I've had two amazing Survivor experiences, and I'm proud of the fact my torch has never been snuffed. At the moment I'd say no … but have a chat to me in a couple of years."
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Hi everyone. I’ve decided to give an update of the last 6 weeks. I have been oversees working on a project and my mother unexpectedly suffered a massive stroke and passed suddenly while I was away. I am returning home immediately and will be taking time away from everything to make sure my family is ok. I have lost the most amazing human in my life. A pillar of love, support, integrity, empathic and nurturing soul that has been right by side throughout every triumph and disaster in my life. It is because of her that everyday I strive to be a better human. I was astounded by the amount of daily unconditional love and support she offered anyone that crossed her path even if meant it was to the detriment of her own health. She was instrumental in putting me on a spiritual path of knowledge, acceptance, love and devotion to the big guy upstairs. Earlier this year mum was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, it was quite aggressive and it was a daily fight with her pain but she never gave up because she wanted to watch her 4 grandsons grow up. She chose to not let MND take control of her body completely and continued to enjoy daily life. In the end it was a stroke not MND that took her life. Knowing Mum is at peace with her own Mum right now is the only comfort I can take at the moment of loss. The impact she had on her four grandsons in their short lives will be reverberated throughout future generations and she can watch proud the fine young men they will grow up to be. RIP Elizabeth “Beppie” May Carseldine. I don’t know how to move forward but I will continue to commit to your legacy for you. Thankyou already to everyone for your love & support, especially our incredible close knit family. My future silence is only one of trying to comprehend what has just happened.🙏🏼✝️❤️ - Lee, Jake, Sam, Rach, Beau, Eli, Stu.
Survivor: All-Stars continues 7:30pm Tuesday and Wednesday on Ten.