Another beloved cast member of the History Channel’s long-running show “Ax Men” has tragically passed away. Gabe Rygaard, owner of a family logging company that has been featured in many episodes, was killed in a violent car accident on Friday. He was quickly transported to a local hospital but pronounced dead soon after his arrival. His death follows the passing of fellow loggers Jimmy Smith in 2012 and William Colantuono in 2013.
The tragedy occurred as the 45-year-old reality-TV star was traveling on Highway 101 near his home in Port Angeles, Washington. Although six other people were involved in the car accident, only Rygaard suffered fatal injuries. Images show his white Ford Bronco with its hood mangled and its front wheels off their axles. The other vehicles, a Chevy Tahoe and a Dodge Ram, are also severely damaged. A kayak lies in the middle of the road; apparently one of the three vehicles involved in the crash was hauling it. According to the State Patrol, Rygaard first rear-ended the Tahoe that had slowed down in front of him and then swerved into oncoming traffic. He was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the car accident.
Gabe was a widely popular participant on “Ax Men” as he faced the daily challenges of life as a lumberjack. He was a regular on the show for eight seasons beginning in its second year. His father, Craig, had started Rygaard Logging in the early 1990’s and turned the company over to Gabe upon his retirement at the end of the show’s sixth season. Since the ultimate goal of the family and crew is to revitalize damaged forests and deliver necessary timber to citizens, they have won the hearts of many viewers. After the cancellation of the show in early 2016, Gabe entered the world of politics and made an unsuccessful run as a Republican candidate for Clallam County Commissioner.
Gabe Rygaard will be missed by his fans and co-stars as well as his family members and friends. His wife, Katy, submitted a Facebook post in which she referred to him as her best friend and father of her children. The loss resulting from this grievous car accident will be difficult for everyone who knew and loved the admired “ax man”.