Grant Thompson, the YouTube star known as “The King of Random,” has died at the age of 38 in a hang-gliding accident. His death was announced July 30 on his official Twitter and YouTube accounts, sending shockwaves through the online community.
TMZ was able to speak to Grant’s brother Mark, who said that the YouTuber went paragliding Monday evening and never returned. His body was discovered by authorities Tuesday and the Thompson family was still being briefed on the matter, TMZ reported. Thompson was married and had four children.
The message from his verified account read, “It is with great sadness to inform everyone that Grant Thompson passed away last night. Grant had great love and appreciation for his fans. We invite you to share your thoughts for Grant and the channel in the comments. Please do a random act of love or kindness today in honor of The King of Random. Grant’s legacy will live on in the channel and the global community he created.”
YouTubers Justine Ezarik aka iJustine and Matthew Santoro as well as “America’s Got Talent” finalist Sofie Dossi were among the first to tweet their condolences to Thompson. Although some commenters believed that the reports around Thompson’s death were part of a hoax.
Later, the news was confirmed by Thompson’s brother that The King of Random, who had 11 million subscribers for his YouTube channel, had died in a paragliding accident in Utah on July 29.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Grant Started Posting Videos on YouTube in 2010
The Internet star became popular through his science-based videos with a dream of becoming a modern-day MacGyver. He liked to debunk myths, create DIY kits, explore life hacks, and do fun experiments. Thompson’s channel quickly grew to become the 321st most subscribed channel on YouTube. While on his Instagram page, Thompson had 362K followers.
Thompson became known as The King of Random, and he regularly worked alongside his right-hand men, Nate and Calli, both of whom had since started hosting on the popular channel on a regular basis.
2. There were Questions as to Whether or Not Thompson’s Account Was Hacked
Fans were initially skeptical as to whether or not this tragic announcement was real or not. There were rumors that people had confused Thompson’s accident with another fatal paragliding accident around the time. As well as the rumor that Thompson had been confused with another Grant Thompson.
Unfortunately, the memorial video and photo post on all his verified accounts remained online, and it became clear that his death was indeed real.
The response and heartache from his fans and fellow YouTubers online was immediate. He was a beloved and respected content creator in his community and the tributes online were heartfelt. Here are some of the more poignant expressions of grief:
3. There’s Another Famous Grant Thompson
Adding confusion to the matter, there is another famous Grant Thompson, an actor, who was born the same year as the YouTuber. According to his IMDB, the actor from Gainesville, Florida, was born on July 23, 1976, and is very much alive.
There are many sites which wrongfully list Thompson’s birth date as November 21, 1976. However, Heavy.com has confirmed Thompson’s birthdate to be November 21, 1980.
4. Some Thompson Fans Were Adamant that the YouTuber’s Death Accident Was Being Confused With Another Paragliding Accident
On Reddit, and in the comments sections of Thompson’s social media accounts, fans pointed to an article about a fatal paragliding accident that had taken place in Florida around the same time as Thompson’s death.
However, the man identified by the Lake Shore Police as the victim of the Florida paragliding accident on July 29 in Lake Beauclair near Mount Dora, was a 59-year-old man from Kentucky named Michael McGuire.
5. Mark Thompson Said that His Brother Had Gotten Really Into Paragliding in the Months Leading Up to His Death
While speaking with TMZ, his brother Mark mentioned that Grant got into paragliding about five months ago, and got really involved with skydiving, and flying. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Utah said a report came in Monday of a paraglider who had not returned. After an hour went by without checking in, authorities attempted to reach the paraglider via cell phone. When those efforts failed, a search operation was initiated.
Grant’s coordinates were pulled from GPS data, and a helicopter located his body on Monday night. The Washington County sheriff says detectives found paragliding equipment at the crash site, as well as a video recording device, items which are currently under review. The police put out the following official statement, “Volunteers with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue and a Life Flight helicopter were requested to assist in locating the pilot. Dispatchers were able to obtain an updated GPS location of the pilot’s cell phone. As the helicopter approached the area, they were able to locate the pilot’s body.”