Ellen DeGeneres Reacts to Prize Winner's Husband Brandon McGraw's Death

Celebrity News Dec. 19, 2013 AT 4:10PM
Ellen DeGeneres; Cherilyn McGraw Ellen DeGeneres Show prize winner, Marine Brandon McGraw, died in a skydiving accident during a trip to Australia that his wife, Cherilyn McGraw, won on the star's talk show last January. Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Tragedy has struck The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Marine Brandon McGraw died last weekend during an Australian trip his wife, Cherilyn McGraw, won on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show last January, TMZ reports.

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The North Carolina residents redeemed the trip to Australia last week and went skydiving together on Saturday, Dec. 14. According to TMZ, Cherilyn made a tandem jump while Gunnery Sgt. Brandon, who was experienced, followed behind her solo.

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An employee at the skydiving school told TMZ that Brandon's parachute caused him to veer suddenly right and left before crashing to the ground at approximately 300 feet. Brandon was pronounced dead at the scene.

UPDATE: DeGeneres released the following statement to Us Weekly on Thursday, Dec. 19:  "I've been speaking with Cherilyn. And my staff has been in touch with her as well. She's asked us to help keep this private as she tries to deal with this unimaginable tragedy. I hope everyone respects that."

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TMZ reports that Cherilyn shared a picture of her husband from inside the plane before his jump flashing a big smile at the camera. "My hero. My angel," she captioned the snapshot. "These are truly such symbolic photos. He was happy and doing what he loved."

The Daily News reports that Brandon was 33 years old.

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