Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What Happened To James Harness From Gold Rush?

Discovery has taken the centuries-old idea of hunting for buried treasure and turned it into a modern-day reality series, "Gold Rush," which centers around the world's most dedicated gold miners. Throughout the 12 seasons of the show (the first of which debuted back in December 2010), fans have been given an inside look into the lives of the most successful and ambitious mining hopefuls in the Western Hemisphere. It is grueling and dangerous work, but as we've seen throughout the past decade-plus of the show, sometimes it leads to unimaginable rewards.

Over the years, "Gold Rush" viewers have been introduced to the colorful characters coming together in teams to mine for the titular prized material. There have been some constant faces on the Discovery reality series, such as the mining prodigy Parker Schnabel and Tony Beets, who have broken out as fascinating figures to follow. And, while we've watched plenty of the main characters transform both personally and professionally over the years, "Gold Rush" has not been without its devastating losses. Of all the "Gold Rush" cast members who have come and gone, it's the death of one original star that is truly heartbreaking to remember.

James Harness died after two seasons of Gold Rush

James Harness was a mainstay of the Hoffman crew during the first two seasons of "Gold Rush." Within the team, he served as a handyman, earning a reputation for being able to fix any problem that came to his attention. Sadly, audiences also became familiar with the Oregon-based mechanic's personal traumas, which played a role in his time on "Gold Rush." A decade before he got into the mining business, Harness was involved in a car accident a decade. He was never able to afford surgery for his massive spinal injury — until a Boston medical center heard his story and provided him the operation (via Starcasm). Harness' chronic pain led to an addiction to pain pills, which in turn contributed to Todd Hoffman's decision to release him from his job after Season 2, where Harness was often absent (via TMZ).

In July 2014, The Hollywood Reporter announced Harness had at the age of 57. In the wake of the "Gold Rush" alum's passing, Oregon Live reported his cause of death was a stroke. "Gold Rush" memorialized Harness' legacy during an episode that aired later in 2014. Harness is survived by his children, a son and a daughter.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).