'Survivor' Katie on Support After Brother's Death

By LISA HIRSCH

December 12, 2013

It's been a tumultuous time for Survivor: Blood vs. Water stars Tina Wesson and Katie Collins, as the mother-daughter duo lost their son and brother, Taylor Lee Collins, 25, in a Chattanooga, Tennessee car crash last week. ETonline finds out how the family is coping, and also talks about Katie's Wednesday night exit from the show after a shocking rock-drawing ceremony during Tribal Council.

ETonline: We just wanted to express our condolences at your brother's passing last week, so sorry to hear about that. Have you received a lot of support from the Survivor family?

Katie: Oh my gosh, that would be an understatement. I feel like as soon as word got out, we had such an [outpouring] of support from the fans of the show, CBS, all of you guys, and it was really incredible. I would like to go back and respond to each and every person that's reached out, but there's been hundreds of emails and stories. And I think that when people watch the show, and you have such a special relationship with the fans of the show, that it becomes a really personal thing. And I think that a lot of people felt what we were going through, and everything has been so heartfelt. And you know, it's really helping us get through it.

It has been pretty recent, and he was supposed to come to the finale with us, but we're going to bring my brother's girlfriend, so she'll be there, and it will be something we can go through together. It will be kind of a bright and shining moment from all this we've been going for. Yeah, everybody has been so supportive, and I couldn't ask for anything more. It's really, really beautiful.

ETonline: Again, we are so sorry. Getting in to talking about the game, going back to your last Tribal Council, how surprised were you when it came to drawing rocks?

Katie: We didn't go into Tribal knowing that was our strategy, and what happened was, Ciera, at Tribal Council, turned to Hayden and said Monica. And then Hayden got my attention, and whispered Monica to me. I'm like… okay, Ciera's gonna vote Monica! Very interesting. It all happened so quickly, it's like you're in a dream. And Tribal doesn't last five hours so you don't have all this time to like sit around over coffee and talk about your next strategy. You're doing it right then and there. And so they're like, okay, you want to draw rocks? And you have to hash out in your head, okay, best case scenario, maybe Tyson gets the white rock and me and Hayden and Ciera can knock out Monica and Gervase. And you're thinking of all these what-ifs, best case, "Okay, we should do this." And so we left it up to chance. And it happened so quickly and there was a lot of emotion involved. And I know that Tyson felt he was safe that night, so I know that for him, knowing he had an idol, feeling safe walking in there and not playing the idol, and then it comes to … a chance Tribal Council… it was a lot of fun to re-watch that moment. There were a couple good Tribal Councils this season and it's just exhilarating really, when you're there.

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ETonline: Totally, it was definitely fun to watch. So the fact that you drew the white rock, do you find yourself being disappointed that it was so random, the way that you went out of the game?

Katie: Not necessarily. … I didn't leave the game by people voting me out, that's kind of the cool thing about it. It's like, I would out by chance. But then, that is also the downside.

ETonline: Going back to your Redemption Island battle, the moment when your mom was about to walk through those doors and she was asking for your permission, you said it was okay for her to go forward, what were you thinking at the time?

Katie: Well, it was sort of bittersweet. I didn't want to go home for good, and I know that she didn't want to be the one to send me home for good, but it's what had to happen. And that stupid little keyring! It had dropped in the sand and my stick had to sort of push it underneath the little podium legs, and so it would have taken all afternoon really for me to be able to get it back through the gate. And I knew she wasn't going to lay down for me but, I didn't know she was going to turn around and ask my permission to go through! But I sort of had a hesistant, "It's okay, mom." I didn't want to go home but I didn't want her to stand there forever and wait for me to finish. So it was sad, we both got emotional.

The Survivor: Blood vs. Water special three-hour finale airs this Sunday on CBS at 8/7c.



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