Reality TV is not necessarily the embodiment of what its name proclaims. More often than not, reality shows exaggerate or even completely change entire scenes and situations in order to create greater appeal to audiences, who gullible or not, are fairly entertained by the huge amount of drama these series provide them with.

However, from time to time, the drama you see on screen is not as bad as that which stars face in real life. This is quite evident in “Bering Sea Gold”, which despite not being a show focused on tragedies or confrontations, some of its cast has had to face more than a couple of sad situations in their personal lives.

So is it true that a “Bering Sea Gold”s star committed suicide? Who else has died in the show, and what other disgraceful incidents have happened to the cast? This and more we will tell you in this vid, so take a seat and be ready!

Did Someone Commit Suicide In “Bering Sea Gold”?

As much as we don’t like it, unfortunate events are part of life as well. However, that doesn’t mean these types of things are easy to overcome, and sometimes they’re tragic enough that it’s almost impossible to forget them.

This is very telling of what happened in “Bering Sea Gold” back in 2012, when John Bunce, one of the divers from the dredge The Edge, committed suicide.

Although the incident didn’t happen at work, it directly affected some of the cast members, especially Zeke Tenhoff, who was not only John’s personal friend but his boss as well. While it’s still unknown what led John to take his life, the official report on the case stated that the young man had shot himself in the head while in his home in Nome, Alaska.

John’s death is probably the most unfortunate and shocking incident to ever happen in “Bering Sea Gold”, as in March 2013 the series ended-up airing an episode showcasing John while working in the dredge just hours before his passing.

In the episode, it could be seen that later that night, someone had called the police to inform them of having witnessed John taking his life, followed then with a heart-breaking scene of his shocked co-workers after receiving the news.

Who Was John?

Despite the fact that “Bering Sea Gold” was deeply marked by John Bunce’s death, he wasn’t necessarily the show’s most popular cast member so it’s normal if you don’t know much about him.

In reality, John was so much more than just a guy who happened to be in a reality show. Born and raised in Oregon, John was apparently always a fan of nature and outdoor activities. As his online obituary stated, he learned how to ski, ride a bike and a lot more while still in his early childhood. Later on, he and his mother moved to Alaska, where he completed his early education, and eventually enrolled into the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

While he graduated with a major in Geology and Mechanics, he also obtained state certifications for truck driving and diving, even if his life dream was to study environmental law instead.

The years following John’s graduation were spent working for several companies in a variety of fields, that curiously always had something to do with the sea. He eventuallyended up getting involved with gold dredging, a job he supposedly loved for the peacefulness it provided him as a diver.

Regardless of his tragic death, John’s acquaintances and family remember him dearly for his love of adventure, traveling adventures and friendly sense of humor.

Criticism

There are many things that are worthy of critique when it comes to TV. However, if it has to do with someone’s life, then these happenings hit a different level of severity.

This is the type of criticism “Bering Sea Gold” has faced ever since the show’s producers thought it was right to air scenes related to John Bunce’s death on TV. As journalism websites stated, the way the show addressed the topic wasn’t as tactful as one would expect in such a serious matter.

For example, the scenes related to John’s death showcased in the second season’s promotional trailer, were edited in a way that somehow leads people to assume that the incident had happened while oat work, obviously creating a misleading situation out of it. More than that, John wasn’t a “Bering Sea Gold”s lead star and his appearances in it were far in between, which makes the production team’s efforts to emphasize the events surrounding his death a little out of place in some people’s perspective.

Could these assumptions be true or are people just misjudging the intentions of the show’s production? Whatever it is, John’s passing was an unfortunate incident that goes beyond what a TV screen could ever convey.

What Bering Sea Gold Is About

After being on TV for almost a decade, it shouldn’t be surprising to know that “Bering Sea Gold” is regarded as a successful show. However, this is one of those cases when a series’ popularity surpasses what everyone expected from it at the start.

Even if the Discovery Channel has obviously found its own place in the reality show market, it’s usually the drama and adrenaline-filled situations which keeps people attracted to this TV genre for years. This is not the case with “Bering Sea Gold” though, as even regardless of the production staff’s insistence in airing scenes that have too much made-up action, the show is admittedly too toned-down compared to other series.

Bering Sea Gold

So why do people like it so much? It’s not easy to explain why “Bering Sea Gold” has such a loyal audience, if it’s only about people going underwater to extract gold. However, we can assume that the whole gold-digging factor plays a big role in people’s enthusiasm for it.

To prove it, the gold dredging industry in Alaska has reportedly grown significantly since the show debuted, leading to the market’s saturation and restrictions’ reinforcement. Though that doesn’t sit well with everyone for obvious reasons, it proves how impactful “Bering Sea Gold” actually is.

The Worst Situations

No matter how much “Bering Sea Gold”s producers try not to step past the line of unnecessary drama, it’s a different story when it comes to its cast’s personal lives, and the set of terrible events that some of them have had to face while cameras are off.

The Fight

There are few things that awaken viewers’ mischievous side more than a confrontation.

This was evidently noted during “Bering Sea Gold”s earliest seasons, during which the dredge Wild Ranger’s former Captain, Scott Meisterheim, generated the animosity of more than a couple of people.

Looking back to the first season’s end, we remember that Meisterheim’s relationship with his comrades wasn’t that good. Specifically, it was too evident that his boss and Wild Ranger’s owner, Vernon Atkinson didn’t hold him in good regards, and the situation go to its lowest point when during a show’s reunion, Atkinson accused Meisterheim of stealing from him and his ship, ensuing a physical and verbal fight that tabloids were quick to report.

Even if the confrontation only resulted in a couple of cuts to both men, it wasn’t an easily forgotten incident, and Meisterheim was soon perceived as one of the show’s most problematic cast members.

While the assumption could seem too extreme, from then on Meisterheim was repeatedly involved in other problematic situations, such as fighting with his deckhand Steve Riedel, being accused of shoving a cameraman in what was apparently a mood tantrum, and as if that wasn’t enough, some of the show’s production staff alleged his drinking habits created trouble on set.

The 2014’s Lawsuit

Does the name John Mehelich sound familiar to you? If not, that’s not unusual, as the captain of the dredge Goldfish only appeared in a couple of episodes of “Bering Sea Gold” back in 2013, but his name is not as easily forgotten by the US authorities.

As it happens, Mehelich owns a pair of gold dredge ships. One of those named the Sound Developer sank while stationed in Alaska’s Cordova’s Port around 2012. However, not only did Mehelich not pay for the costs of its removal, his neglect also allegedly caused the spill of 450 gallons of oil from the sunken ship.

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Posted by Bering Sea Gold on Friday, March 30, 2018

The situation resulted in a Federal $1 million lawsuit and a civil complaint against Mehelich, but it’s difficult to know the result, as no information was forthcoming.

The 2019’s Lawsuit

Probably the biggest lawsuit involving a “Bering Sea Gold” cast member was that filed in 2019 by a couple of teenagers. Back in October 2018 two high school students of unknown name suffered a severe accident when a misplaced cable mangled their cab.

As it happened, said cable was connected to the dredge Myrtle Irene of Arctic Sea Morning LLC, a company owned by “Bering Sea Gold”s star Ken Kerr. As the plaintiffs alleged, the situation could have been prevented if the company hadn’t failed to inform of the cable’s presence in Port Road, where the incident happened.

Although details about the teens’ well-being weren’t revealed, they allegedly went through a severe recovery process both physically and emotionally.

Bering Sea Gold

Both teens were asking for $100,000 to cover medical costs, but to date there haven’t been updates on the lawsuit.

For his part, Ken Kerr is still actively appearing in “Bering Sea Gold” but has kept mostly quiet about the whole situation.

Scott Meisterheim Legal Problems

If you thought Scott Meisterheim’s problems were only limited to a couple of arguments with his fellow cast members, then you’re in for a surprise.

Scott was actually fired from “Bering Sea Gold” back in 2014. Although the causes leading to his exit were mostly related to his misdemeanors and allegedly problematic personality, life for Scott was about to get more complicated from then on.

Initially, several websites reported that he was a wanted man in Michigan for failing to pay one of his daughter’s child support.

Of course, the whole situation put Scott in a pretty bad light, considering the bad reputation he had gained with the show’s fans. However, later on he affirmed that his inability to pay for child support was mostly due to his income being cut-short following his firing from “Bering Sea Gold”.

Following a partial payment of his debt, and the local court’s refusal to dismiss the warrant with his name, Scott affirmed that he was going back to Alaska for another job in gold dredging.

Was he successful at it? We don’t exactly know, but it has been a while since we got a hold of Scott’s misadventures with the law. Anyway, we hope life got easier for him at some point, as apart from his daughter in Michigan, he’s also the father of another two young girls.

Shawn Pomrenke’s Arrests

This is a name you surely know. Not only is Shawn Pomrenke one of the longest-running cast members in “Bering Sea Gold”, but he also owns some of the biggest and financially stable ships featured in it, such as the Christine Rose and Shamrock.

However, while his career as a gold extractor is evidently prolific, his personal life isn’t as good. Back in December 2012, Shawn was arrested for hitting a pedestrian and fleeing from the scene, in addition to driving under the influence. After testing positive for high alcohol levels, and drunkenly admitting his responsibility in the case, Shawn was arrested and eventually sentenced to 180 days in jail. However, his sentence was lowered to two weeks with the condition of equipping his car with an interlock device.

Later in December 2013, Shawn was arrested for the second time for again driving under the influence, in addition to surpassing Nome’s speed’s legal limit.

Is “Bering Sea Gold” Still On Air?

Regardless of the many problems its cast has faced over the years, fans of the show could peacefully sleep, knowing it’s not only still on air, but that it maintains high ratings and a loyal fan following.

However, it’s easy to assume that the financial benefits the show provides to its cast plays a huge role in the permanency of “Bering Sea Gold” on air. As has been reported, each cast member is paid over $100,000 per season, which is great in addition to the income from their dredging activities. As the Anchorage Daily News reported in 2012, the average income for sea gold extractors is around $10,000 per week, though that doesn’t include operations’ costs, salaries to employees and living accommodations.

Does that sound like a lot? If so, then it’s not surprising the gold extracting business attracts that many people to Alaska, and why the show is still on air, assuring us that despite the difficulties its cast might face, there will be more of “Bering Sea Gold” for a long time.

Author

Robbie is currently a reporter for TheBiography based in Santa Monica, CA. Prior to joining TheBiography in December 2020, he was an entertainment reporter in People.

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