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Gold Rush Star 'Dakota' Fred Hurt Dead At 80

On July 11, the world lost a staple of Discovery's "Gold Rush" franchise. Dakota Fred Hurt died at the age of 80, just four months after being diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer. The news broke via his official Facebook page, with the post in question reading, "'Dakota' Fred Hurt passed away this morning surrounded by family. He fought courageously in his battle against cancer. Fred touched many lives and was loved and supported by many." The post also urges readers to donate to the Mike Rowe Works Foundation in Hurt's honor.

Hurt began his television journey in 2011, quickly becoming a regular face on the first "Gold Rush" title. He makes his debut in the Season 2 premiere, "Twist of Fate," and goes on to appear throughout the season, ever hopeful that he and his team will hit it big during their next excavation. The veteran gold miner pops up consistently throughout Season 3 and Season 4, though suddenly, he disappears from the series. Hurt chose to leave "Gold Rush" ahead of Season 5 and didn't reemerge until Season 10.

Of course, Hurt didn't just appear on "Gold Rush." He also found time to help out on its numerous spin-offs.

Hurt is an icon of the Gold Rush franchise

Fred Hurt became a household name thanks to "Gold Rush," and as the series gained its footing and became a widely-watched Discovery hit, he found himself on multiple shows. In 2013 he made a guest appearance on an episode of the short-lived "Gold Rush: South America" — specifically Season 1's "The Frozen North." He then jumped over to "Gold Rush: The Legend of Porcupine Creek" and later "Gold Rush: The Dirt," where he racked up 15 episodes across Seasons 1, 2, 6, and 7.

Odds are if you aren't familiar with Hurt's work on "Gold Rush," you know him for "Gold Rush: White Water." Seeing as he features in a whopping 61 episodes, it's fair to say that he became a fixture of the spin-off with ease. For reference, that's two more episodes than he appeared in for the first "Gold Rush" franchise installment. The last episode of "White Water" he appeared in before his death was Season 6's "Hell from the Heavens," which reached the airwaves for the first time on June 2.

Mining for gold isn't for everyone. It's dirty, tedious, and can be incredibly dangerous, but for Dakota Fred Hurt, it was the perfect thing to build a life and career on. The "Gold Rush" icon will be sorely missed.