HUGE UPDATE 7/8/15 10:00 AM EST: Okay, this one is a biggie, so don’t do that thing where you skip past this to read the article first. Turns out, pretty much EVERY news outlet had it wrong. A Gaston from the Walt Disney World passed away, not the Gaston who has gone repeatedly viral in fan vids. That Gaston is probably alive and well. We of course apologize for potentially freaking out the parents and well-wishers of this guy. Keep up the good work, sir, and let the takeaway from all this be that you are loved.
This guy allegedly died:
Not this guy:
Wow, this is one of those incredible tragedies that you don’t ever expect to write about, let alone hear about. One of the shining lights of the peripheral YouTube scene — a brilliant accidental star has passed on.
Devon Staples, who played Gaston at Walt Disney World, and was the subject of NMR’s coverage earlier this year for his fantastic embodiment of the Disney villain, was killed when he accidentally lit a large firework off his head and died instantly on the 4th of July. The chiseled and handsome theme park actor became a sort of celebrity through YouTube where people regularly uploaded videos of him having fun with guests — especially kids. The videos frequently drew in the millions of views.
Devon, who was 22, had been drinking with his brother and friends up in Maine, on holiday from Walt Disney World, and placed a ground mortar atop his head. He then allegedly lit the fuse by holding a lighter too close to the fuse and it went off.
“I was the first one who got there. There was no rushing him to the hospital. There was no Devon left when I got there,” his brother, Cody Staples, said to New York Daily News. “It was a freak accident … But Devon was not the kind of person who would do something stupid. He was the kind of person who would pretend to do something stupid to make people laugh.”
Jesus, that “no Devon left when I got there” part sounds brutal … that sounds like a white hot firework carved out his skull. Devon, and his capering will be missed. At the time I wrote the article, I speculated that Disney should recognize the performer they had in their employ and do something bigger with him on YouTube. Maybe a Gaston channel? Now that won’t ever happen. Staples was one of a kind.
He also allegedly carries the unpleasant distinction of being Maine’s first fireworks fatality since the state legalized sky candy several years ago.