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'Bachelorette' premiere honors deceased contestant Eric Hill

Eric Hill died in a paragliding accident after he finished taping "The Bachelorette."
By Kate Stanton   |   May 21, 2014 at 12:27 AM   |   Comments

LOS ANGELES, May 20 (UPI) -- Bachelorette contestant Eric Hill died in a paragliding accident last month after he completed taping on the reality dating series' 10th season with Andi Dorfman, leaving shocked viewers to wonder how producers would address his presence on the show.

They got their answer on Wednesday. Right off the bat, longtime host Chris Harrison paid tribute to Hill and dedicated the season to him.

"In the coming weeks, you'll see that Eric was a vibrant man," Harrison said. "Every day, he impressed us with his passion and courageous spirit. He will be greatly missed. And we dedicate this season to him."

Harrison's tribute played over a montage of photos of Hill's travels. The 31-year-old was an adventurer who was documenting his ambition to visit 195 countries in world-record time.

Harrison recently told Salon that the producers had made a conscious decision to keep Hill in the show.

"He was a wonderful man, and very much beloved on the show, a central figure early on before he left, and our decision was quickly made: We have to show what he went through," Harrison said. "And also because it affected our cast and our crew, what we went through. So to just cut that out of the show wouldn't have done justice to anybody, even him."

Follow @KateStan and @UPI on Twitter.
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