Reality star sues ‘Life Below Zero’ over safety claims

ANCHORAGE — A star of the Alaska-based reality series “Life Below Zero” is suing the show’s producers, alleging she was hurt while forced to perform dangerous acts in support of false story lines.

The lawsuit against BBC Worldwide Reality Productions and others responsible for the National Geographic Channel series was filed in federal court on behalf of Susan Aikens, KTUU-TV reported Monday.

Aikens lives at the Kavik River Camp on Alaska’s North Slope and has appeared on the Emmy-winning show since the first season aired in 2013.

The lawsuit claims Aikens was forced to drive a snowmachine into overflow, then was badly hurt in the resulting crash and denied a ride from the crash site to a rescue plane.

“The defendants decided not to call life-flight, or for immediate pick up in the field with air taxi, in favor of getting additional footage,” the lawsuit says. She was forced to walk part of the way “to film how much pain plaintiff was suffering.”

The crash appeared in an episode that first aired in June 2015, and in the following episode viewers see footage of Aikens that appears to be in the moments before the crash as she prepares to cross ice or overflow.

“If I can take the machine and skate-skate, I might bust open a little hole and get some fresh water,” she tells the camera.

On the show, Aikens appears to take responsibility for the crash calling it “a stupid mistake.”

The lawsuit, filed Friday, claims the show’s creators and producers violated their contract with Aikens, including a provision that says the “producer will not use the footage and materials to fictionalize an event” and demanding that she “perform acts that were dangerous and life-threatening.”

A spokeswoman for the BBC Worldwide Reality Productions said she hadn’t heard of the lawsuit until contacted by KTUU on Monday and couldn’t comment.

“I’m afraid we’re not aware of this claim at this time, thus I’m unable to respond,” she wrote in an email.

Aikens is seeking a jury trial and an unspecified amount of money.

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