YouTube Stars You Didn't Realize Passed Away

The following article includes references to domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicide.

We've all gotten a little emotional when a favorite actor or musician we've admired has died, but there's something about the intimate relationship between a YouTuber and their audience that can make their deaths so much harder for fans to take. The average age of a top contributor was said to be 27 back in 2013, and that figure has only been lowering in the decade since. So when a YouTube star passes, it always comes as a shock, just as it did when 18-year-old vlogger Ben Breedlove died of cardiac arrest on Christmas Day 2011. 

Just a week earlier, the young YouTuber — who had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy — had opened up about how his health condition had led to his third near-death experience earlier that month in a pair of videos called "This is my story," which have since gained millions of views. A friend of the Breedlove family named Pam Kohler later explained to ABC News, "It was obvious to all of us that knew him that he knew what he was doing when he made that video. There are times that [the family is] overwhelmed by the pain and the loss of Ben, but then it's replaced with knowing that he was at peace with what was going to happen."

Tragically, Ben Breedlove isn't the only YouTuber to be taken too soon — and sadly, he was far from the youngest social media star the world has lost. Here are the YouTube stars you may not have realized passed away.

Will Norton

In May 2011, a devastating tornado swept through Joplin, Missouri, reducing homes to rubble and injuring thousands of its residents. The deadly twister (which was up to a mile wide with winds over 200 miles per hour at its peak) took the lives of 158 people, including popular YouTuber Will Norton. 

The witty 18-year-old was in the middle of his high school graduation when the weather outside started to turn, and after accepting his diploma, he and his father, Mark Norton, headed for home as fast as they could. The powerful winds flipped their vehicle onto its side, breaking Will's seat belt and leaving him dangerously exposed. Despite his father's attempts to hold onto him, Will was sucked through the sunroof of his vehicle. His body was later discovered in a nearby pond, concealed by debris. "At least we know that he wasn't out there suffering," his aunt, Tracey Presslor, told the press (via the New York Daily News). "Knowing that he was gone right away was really a blessing for us."

In 2021, Will's father opened up about his late son's legacy, which has included a number of programs in his name, such as scholarships at his high school and the film program at California's Chapman University, Joplin Athletic Complex's baseball field for people with disabilities, and the Freeman Health System's children's behavioral health facility. "It does give us some peace and joy knowing that he's left behind some goodness in this world," Mark said (via KSN). "... I think Will impacted a lot of people and we're proud of him."

Sophie Anderson

British YouTuber Sophie Anderson (known as Sophie Emma Rose to her subscribers) ran her channel from the sunny beaches of Phuket in southern Thailand, giving parenting advice that sometimes proved controversial — she was a passionate advocate of breastfeeding older children, and often did just that in her videos. In May 2017, the 41-year-old was six months pregnant when the scooter she was on collided with an 18-wheeler truck, killing her and her unborn child, per The Telegraph.

"I am in total shock as I've lost the most precious person I had ever connected with," 29-year-old boyfriend Danny Glass, who'd been driving the scooter, wrote on Facebook soon after. "My brain keeps going into denial. I am distraught. She was also pregnant, so I lost my child too." To add insult to injury for Glass, he along with the driver of the truck he hit were held equally responsible for the deaths by Thai authorities. "Both were driving recklessly," the Thai police confirmed, according to The Guardian. "The drivers have already been charged."

In January 2018, Glass received a two-year suspended prison sentence, as well as a fine of around $450.

Tamisha Ridge

YouTube DIY fashion icon Tamisha Ridge was attracting millions of viewers to her since-terminated MeeshaTV channel when she was cruelly snatched away from her friends, family, and subscribers by an on-and-off ex-boyfriend with a history of violence. In May 2014, the 31-year-old mother was found in her home with a fatal gunshot wound to the head, inflicted when she was asleep by a man who already had five previous convictions for domestic abuse. Ridge had also previously been granted a temporary restraining order against him.

According to The Sacramento Bee, Dameshlo Green's abusive behavior started when his wife at the time took him to family court for battery back in 2002. He pleaded no contest and the pair divorced, but Green was back in trouble with the law in '04 and '08 after roughing up two more women. In 2011, Green was jailed for beating and sexually assaulting his teenage girlfriend. The judge who approved the warrant for his arrest dubbed the ordeal as "extremely cruel," and the DA who sent him down for a four-year prison stint told Green that this should serve as "the ultimate wake-up call."

Clearly, Green's stint behind bars did nothing to break his pattern of violence towards women, as he would later murder bubbly fashionista Ridge in cold blood. Green, whose crime also left three children (one of whom he fathered) motherless, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2018 and sentenced to 75 years to life in prison.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Caleb Bratayley

The success of vlogging family The Shaytards convinced countless other families to start sharing their daily lives on YouTube, including The Bratayleys. Described by The Guardian as "a sort of online middle-class version of the Kardashians," the family has 7.2 million subscribers and, in total, their videos have been viewed more than 4 billion times. Their vlogs used to focus on the three Bratayley (real name LeBlanc) children: Annie, Hayley, and Caleb. That all changed on October 1, 2015.

"Yesterday at 7:08PM Caleb Logan Bratayley passed away of natural causes," his parents revealed via the official family Instagram. "This has come as a shock to all of us. Words cannot describe how much we will miss him. His incredibly funny, loving and wonderful spirit made us all fall in love with him as a YouTuber, friend, brother and son." The following day, the last video Caleb recorded was posted, entitled "Dear Future Self."

As the 13-year-old's fans began the grieving process, conspiracy theorists started to spread stories of alleged foul play. Many wondered how a seemingly healthy boy could just pass away overnight, and the fact that Caleb's parents planned to live-stream the memorial was met with mixed reaction. In the end, local police were forced to release a statement confirming that "there [were] no suspicious factors and/or suspected foul play" in Caleb's death and that no criminal investigations were underway. The following month, Caleb's mom took to Facebook to reveal that his cause of death was undetected hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Connie Kin

Connie Kin had a modest following on her personal YouTube channel, but the haul videos she did for the WhatsUpMoms page made her famous among mothers on the internet. The parenting channel has over 3.6 million subscribers, as of this writing, and has had as many as 75 million views on a single video, though it lost one of its most popular contributors back in November 2013, when Kin died of an infection after giving birth to her second child, Ella. The bubbly vlogger also shared son Nathan with her husband, Andrew Kin.

"What you saw of her on [YouTube] — how much she loved Nathan, her incredible smile and laugh, her attention to detail, her love of friends and community — she was all that and more," Andrew was quoted as saying by Babble. "I treasure all of these videos and comments because I know Nathan and Ella will always be just a click away from seeing their mom smiling and caring about them, and a click away from understanding all the people she touched." At the time of her death, Connie Kin was just 35.

Tameka Moore

Known to YouTube as Meechy Monroe, Tameka Moore's channel featured hairstyle tips and tutorials, branding herself as a natural hair enthusiast. She started out in the fall of 2010, and over the next few years, her reputation grew considerably. By early 2014, she was attracting viewers in the millions, but her life and online career were turned upside down later that year.

Shortly before her 29th birthday, Moore began to notice one side of her face was drooping and she was having trouble with her speech. Her doctors found that she had suffered three strokes. After performing some exploratory surgery, they diagnosed her with an extremely rare form of brain cancer, and knowing the treatment would make her precious hair fall out, she voluntarily shaved her head.

"I cried," Moore told People in 2015. "It was very difficult because my hair was so much a part of my personality." Monroe went on to explain that while the diagnosis was a devastating blow to her family, she did her best to put on a brave face. "I was calm, but worried. These thoughts kept going through my head: 'Will I make it? I have to keep faith!'" In June 2017, after being placed under hospice care, the Chicago-based vlogger tragically died, aged just 32.

Achilles Williams

Personal trainer Achilles Williams only had nine videos on his channel when he died, but he was a star on the rise after his second video on the secrets of lowering body fat percentage clocked up over a million views. He filmed himself doing high intensity workouts and also recorded motivational vlogs, but he sadly never got the chance to see just how big his channel could have become.

The 30-year-old Atlanta resident was killed in March 2015 when a workout video went terribly wrong. According to USA Today, Williams and a friend gained access to a railway track and were filming a skipping-rope sequence as a freight train approached. The intention was to have the train pass by behind the trainer, but they had tragically misjudged the width of the carriages. The train collided with the YouTuber, killing him instantly.

Believe it or not, Williams was the second health and fitness YouTuber to be killed by a train in as many months. Model-turned-actor and reality star Greg Plitt, 37, attracted millions of viewers to his channel, and he too decided to make a video on train tracks. Plitt was struck by a Metrolink train and fatally injured.

Justin Carmical

Justin Carmical (aka "Jew Wario") was part of the first generation of YouTube stars, well known and respected in the online gaming community. The gamer became a big deal after the success of his "You Can Play This!" series, in which he would import video games from Japan and teach people how to play them without knowing the language. He was always a fun guy to watch, full of energy and enthusiasm on camera.

Off camera, however, he was experiencing suicidal thoughts. Tragically, for those who knew him and those who subscribed to him, Justin Carmical died by suicide in 2014. He was 42. "It is with a very sad heart that I must confirm my husband ... died on Thursday, January 23rd," his wife, Jenny Carmical, wrote in a Facebook post. "I also have to confirm he shot himself, but he was not alone, he locked himself in the bathroom and I was on the other side of the door talking with him." Expressing gratitude for Justin's loyal viewers, Jenny continued, "He knew I loved him, HE KNEW ALL OF YOU LOVED HIM. You all made him so happy, every time he was recognized from his videos, it made him giddy with joy."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Peter Oakley

Affectionately known to his subscribers as the granddad of the internet, Peter Oakley made his first contribution to YouTube back in 2006 when he posted a fuzzy video entitled "First Try." The British vlogger asked the YouTube community for help and advice in shaping his channel Geriatric1927, and word of the chatty pensioner soon spread, with more than 3 million people watching his debut video.

After feedback, Oakley decided to use the video sharing platform to tell his story. He would often take his viewers on journeys into his childhood in wartime Britain, but people also tuned in to hear his gripes about the modern world. "There are millions of people without grandparents who find small comfort in old, simple, stories," he told the Independent in 2012. "I have had my 15 minutes of fame — and enjoyed every minute of it."

In February 2014, a post appeared on Oakley's website, confirming what his subscribers had feared when they hadn't heard from him in a while. "Peter has just been transferred to a nursing care facility, he has cancer which is apparently too far advanced for treatment and he is not expected to pull through," it read. Oakley signed off his final video with some typically British stiff upper-lip: "In conclusion I would say my possibly final goodbye," he said. "So goodbye." Oakley died the following month at the age of 86.

Pedro Ruiz

Pedro Ruiz III wasn't a famous YouTuber in his lifetime, but he sadly became infamous in death as a shocking example of just how far aspiring YouTube stars might go to boost their numbers. In June 2017, he was accidentally killed in a stunt filmed for his partner Monalisa Perez's channel. It went horribly wrong, leaving the 19-year-old mother of one (who was seven months pregnant with their second child at the time) facing charges of second-degree manslaughter. She later pleaded guilty, resulting in a 180-day jail sentence.

Perez's since-terminated La MonaLisa channel was a mixture of family vlogging and pranks, with the last video she posted before the fatal accident revolving around "scary stunts" at the fun fair. Little did her subscribers know that she and Ruiz had a far more dangerous stunt planned — she was going to fire a desert eagle at her partner, who was going to stop the bullet with a thick encyclopedia. The bullet went straight through the book, killing Ruiz.

"They were in love," Claudia Ruiz, aunt of the deceased, told KVLY (via CNN). "It was just a prank gone wrong. It shouldn't have happened like this. It shouldn't have happened at all. ... I don't know why they thought the book was supposed to stop the bullet." According to a tweet Perez sent out prior to shooting, the whole stunt was Ruiz's idea: "Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever. ... HIS idea not MINE." This would later be showcased in a transcript of the video in question.


Minecraft gamer Technoblade garnered a massive following on YouTube over the course of his career. In August 2021, Technoblade took to the platform to reveal his cancer diagnosis in a video titled "where I've been." He explained that he decided to see a doctor after experiencing arm pain that wouldn't subside. "They ran a couple of scans and then they came back, and they told me that the reason my arm hurts is because I have cancer," the YouTuber shared. "That really couldn't have gone worse, I don't think."

In June 2022, the gamer's father shared a tragic update with fans in a separate YouTube video titled "so long nerds." It was revealed that Technoblade left a final message for his father to read to his viewers after his death. "Hello everyone, Technoblade here," the message read in part. "If you're watching this, I am dead." Revealing his face and that his real first name was Alex for the first time, Technoblade also penned, "Thank you all for supporting my content over the years. If I had another hundred lives, I think I would choose to be Technoblade again every single time, as those were the happiest years of my life."

The otherwise anonymous YouTube star was only 23 years old at the time of his death. Although Technoblade's family did not share many details on his diagnosis, it was reported that he raised $500,000 to support the Sarcoma Foundation of America prior to his passing. That September, Technoblade was posthumously honored with the organization's Courage Award. 

Jonathan Grant Thompson

Jonathan Grant Thompson, most widely known as "The King of Random," shared fun science-inspired YouTube videos with his millions of followers. The content creator died in Utah in July 2019 in a tragic paragliding accident. After an investigation, local officials concluded that the paraglider's chute collapsed due to a gust of wind. Thompson fell to the ground after his reserve chute also failed. The YouTuber reportedly began paragliding four months prior to his accident.

Thompson's death was announced in a statement shared to Instagram. "It is with great sadness to inform everyone that Grant Thompson passed away last night," the statement read in part. "Grant had great love and appreciation for his fans. We invite you to share your thoughts for Grant and the channel in the comments. Please do a random act of love or kindness today in honor of The King of Random."

The King of Random YouTube channel continued on after Thompson's death. His channel collaborator, Nate Bonham, elaborated on the decision in a compilation video shared in the late content creator's memory, titled "Thank you, Grant." "This channel is part of Grant's legacy," Bonham shared. "He would have wanted, and we know that his wife wants us to continue, so that is the plan going forward." Thompson was 38.

Corey La Barrie

Australian YouTuber Corey La Barrie died in a car accident in May 2020. The content creator was celebrating his 25th birthday that night when his friend, "Ink Master" star Daniel Joseph Silva, reportedly ran into a stop sign and tree while speeding. Silva was later arrested on suspicion of murder, per CBS Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement that alleged Silva tried to leave the scene before being stopped by a passerby who witnessed the car crash. That July, Silva pleaded no contest to a gross vehicular manslaughter felony charge and received a 364-day jail sentence in connection with the deadly crash. He was released in October 2020.

Corey La Barrie's family took to social media to speak out following his tragic death. His brother, Jarrad La Barrie, penned a heartfelt message on Instagram, alongside a drunk driving allegation against Silva. "This isn't something i thought i would ever have to sit here and type out for a very long time or what i wanna do right now but everyone deserves to know, my brother Corey passed away last night in a car accident with his drunk friend driving," Jarrad wrote in part. The late YouTube star's mother, Lissa Burton, also shared a statement to Instagram, penning in part, "My heart breaks right now, on my sons 25 birthday today he got into a car with a drunk driver. The accident killed him instantly." 

Known for filming vlogs, prank videos, and challenges, Corey La Barrie's YouTube channel garnered over 300,000 subscribers.

Monty Oum

YouTube animator Monty Oum's talents earned him a loyal fanbase that allowed him to launch the anime series "RWBY." He was also an animator for Rooster Teeth's "Red Vs. Blue" series. In February 2015, Oum died due to a severe allergic reaction experienced during a medical procedure, after which he fell into a coma. He was 33. Rooster Teeth released a statement on their website (via Time) following the animator's death. "As for honoring Monty, we will do that in our own way," the company penned. "In lieu of flowers or gifts, we ask that you simply do something creative. Use your imagination to make the world a better place in any way that you can."

It wasn't easy for Oum's fellow "RWBY" creators to keep the show going following his death. "'RWBY' Volume 3 was the scariest thing ever," co-creator Miles Luna said in a behind-the-scenes clip of the anime (via Inverse). "Monty was gone. And that changed everything." Sharing how the show's creators managed to move forward, Luna said, "At that point we were even more sure that people cared about these characters and stories. What we weren't sure if they were going to stick around. We had to grow up fast." Producer Gray G. Haddock also revealed that they ensured Oum's original vision for the show was taken into consideration.

Emily Hartridge

British YouTuber and TV presenter Emily Hartridge built a following after her videos on relationships and mental health gained attention. Most of Hartridge's most popular videos incorporated the "10 reasons why" formula. For example, her 2013 video titled "Dogs are better than men....10 Reasons Why" earned an impressive 23 million views.

Hartridge died in an e-scooter crash in July 2019. She was 35. In the coroner's report, publicly shared in October 2020, Dr. Fiona Wilcox shared further details on the tragic accident. "Ms Hartridge was riding an electric scooter on Queenstown Road when she lost control after passing over an inspector hatch in the cycle lane and was thrown under the path of an HGV," Wilcox wrote in a statement (via BBC News). "She died instantly of injuries sustained by the HGV driving over her." She added, "The scooter was being unsuitably driven, too fast and with an underinflated tyre and this caused the loss of control and her death."

Hartridge's boyfriend, Jake Hazell, revealed to The Sun that some unfortunately blamed him for his girlfriend's death because he had gifted her with the e-bike for her birthday a couple of months prior. "But I can't think that," he said. Hazell later told the BBC, "For those who knew Emily she was just incredible. ... But what she has taught me has got me through. I feel close to her, I still do the Instagram, still do the YouTube and continue her message that it is OK to have a tough time."

Charlie Green Jr.

Charlie Green Jr. — YouTube's own "Angry Grandpa" — was known for his hilarious videos that often featured his family members. With the YouTuber's channel boasting over 4 million subscribers, one of his most popular videos, 2014's "ANGRY GRANDPA DESTROYS PS4!" has 46 million views, as of this writing.

Charlie's YouTube career sadly came to end when he died of liver disease in December 2017. The social media star was 67 years old at the time and had reportedly been living with health issues for years, including a prior diagnosis with skin cancer. His son, Michael Green, took to his father's YouTube channel to announce his death to his subscribers. "So, earlier this year grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, and he beat it," Michael explained in an emotional video titled "RIP ANGRY GRANDPA." He added, "In July, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, which we thought was early stage. And it turns out it was not early stage, it was end stage, and I think he knew and didn't wanna tell us." 

Michael went on to share that Charlie was released from the hospital, because he appeared to be getting better, but he later died at his South Carolina home. "YouTube is a very fickle game," Michael said, thanking the family's viewers. "... And for some reason, you guys watched us for 10 years. ... Dad lived his entire life seeing this channel grow to be something that none of us ever believed that it could be."

Keith Ratliff

YouTuber Keith Ratliff showed off his gun collection on his FPSRussia channel, but unfortunately, the star's passion was the very thing that led to his death in January 2013. Ratliff was fatally shot in his home office in Georgia. He was 32. 

With his killer unknown at the time, Sheriff Stevie Thomas told The New York Times, "We are interviewing people of interest, but we have not named a suspect. We are not ruling out any options." Wife Amanda Ratliff questioned her husband's death. "You know, it just doesn't really add up," she told WSB-TV. Keith's brother, Kelly Ratliff, also added, "For him not to pull out that gun and try to defend himself, he had to feel comfortable around somebody. Either that or he was ambushed."

As of this writing, Keith Ratliff's murderer has still not been identified. In 2018, his sister, Cory Brawner, spoke to Dateline (via NBC News) about how difficult it was to know that her brother's killer was still out there. "To this day, we are still piecing things together," she shared. "Without any answers, it's been a living hell. I look over my shoulder every single day to see if there is someone behind me." Brawner went on to add that she just hoped to learn who took Keith Ratliff's life and why.