`Wipeout' player with condition dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) - November 12, 2009

Tom Sparks, 33, was participating in the first segment of an obstacle course Oct. 19 when he complained of knee pain, according to Endemol, the company which produces "Wipeout" for ABC.

Producers had him stop, Endemol said Thursday. On-set medics examined Sparks, noticed he was short of breath and took him to a local hospital.

He was moved to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and underwent several brain surgeries, according to TheWrap.com, which first reported Sparks' 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.


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