Ahead of the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner Triangle of Sadness's big-screen debut on Oct. 7, 2022, the cast mourned the sudden death of 32-year-old South African model and actress Charlbi Dean Kriek.
Following her 2010 appearance in Spud, Charlbi landed starring roles in Blood in the Water, An Interview With God, and the CW’s Black Lightning. However, it wasn’t until recently that Charlbi took on her breakout role as Yaya in Triangle of Sadness.
Unfortunately, the up-and-coming actress and model died unexpectedly; her death came just two months before the satirical black comedy's theatrical release. What happened? Here’s everything we know about Charlbi Dean's cause of death.
What was Charlbi Dean Kriek's cause of death?
On Tuesday, Aug. 30, Variety reported that Charlbi suddenly died at age 32. Before she tragically passed away, she was in a relationship with her fiancé, model Luke Volker. She is survived by her parents — Joanne Muller and Johan Kriek — and her younger brother, Alex Jacobs.
At the time of her passing, the cause of death was unknown; however, on Dec. 21, 2022, a spokesperson for the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner confirmed to People that Charlbi died of bacterial sepsis. The sepsis "was a complication from asplenia (the absence of a spleen) due to "remote blunt trauma to her torso," the spokesperson told the outlet.
Charlbi had had her spleen removed following a life-threatening car accident around 2009. As the Mayo Clinic notes, the spleen "helps fight infection and filters unneeded material, such as old or damaged blood cells, from your blood."
The medical examiner further determined that her bacterial sepsis was caused "after she was infected with a bacteria known as Capnocytophaga." According to the CDC, the bacteria is commonly found in the mouths of humans, dogs, and cats but can cause an infection for those with weakened immune systems. At the time of writing, it's unclear what caused Charlbi's infection.
Charlbi's death was ruled an accident.
Following the shocking news of her death, many were quick to share tributes and offer their condolences on social media. Among them was Charlbi's longtime friend Nina Dobrev. The Vampire Diaries star paid homage to the late South African actress on her Instagram story.
"An angel has gone to heaven too soon. Rest in peace, Charlbi," she wrote. "May heaven be all you ever imagined."
On Aug. 31, Charlbi's younger brother Alex spoke with Rolling Stone and revealed his sister's sudden passing in New York City happened after she started experiencing "minor" symptoms and soon asked her fiancé to take her to the emergency room. She died just hours later.
"This happened literally within the span of a day: getting a headache, going to sleep, waking up her boyfriend and saying please take me to the hospital," Alex told Rolling Stone. He also mentioned that his older sister was involved in a "very, very bad car accident" around 2009; Charlbi suffered a broken back and broken ribs, and doctors were forced to remove her spleen.
"They removed her spleen. It’s involved in fighting off infections, and that could have had something to do what happened. Her spleen not being there just added onto the reason why she perhaps couldn’t fight it off," he said.
Our thoughts are with Charlbi's family and loved ones.