Spooky TV adventure calls to Fort Worth trio


9 p.m. Wednesday


Posted 9:02am on Saturday, Mar. 30, 2013

Heather Bond's idea of fun is decidedly different from the norm.

When she and two family members were chosen by TV producers to spend a couple of harrowing nights in a haunted Texas hospital, she couldn't have been more thrilled.

"I felt like I had won the lottery," the Fort Worth native says.

Most people in the same situation -- those in their right minds, anyway -- probably wouldn't consider themselves winners.

But Bond and her two companions, Katye Skillman and Dillon Bartlett, happily hit the road to little Yorktown, about 300 miles south of Fort Worth, so they could stay in an abandoned hospital where a nun reportedly haunts the chapel, apparitions touch intruders and a demonlike entity lurks in the basement.

"When we weren't scared out of our wits," Bond says, "we had a good time."

Mind you, when asked if she would do it again, she admits that one time probably was enough.

The Fort Worth trio's ghost-hunting adventures have been chronicled in an episode of Stranded that airs 9 p.m. Wednesday on Syfy.

The show is like a reality-TV version of The Blair Witch Project-meets- Paranormal Activity, with shaky-cam footage created by a three-person team of amateur ghost hunters who have been equipped with hand-held night-vision cameras.

Bond volunteered online to go on the program. She did so knowing only that, if chosen, she might spend the night in some haunted location, "like it was a paranormal vacation."

When a casting director contacted her, saying she'd need two partners, she chose Katye, her niece, and Dillon, the boyfriend of another niece who had recently passed away.

"As someone who has been on ghost hunting events, I was ready to meet a ghost," Bond says. "I'm not so sure that Katye and Dillon were as prepared. They were just kind of following my lead."

Then, surprise of surprises, they learned that the haunted location would be a hospital.

"We were a little thrown by that at first," Bond says. "You have to remember, the three of us had been practically living in an ICU, watching my 21-year-old niece Lauren pass away from cancer.

"It was an alarming coincidence. But we looked at it this way: We had faced our greatest fear together in a hospital. So being in a hospital location again kind of gave us this strength and unity."

Here's a taste of what it was like inside Yorktown Memorial Hospital.

"The place was abandoned for a long time, so it wasn't cushy," Bond says. "It was full of rat and bird feces. It was broken down. There was no electricity, no running water. It was 123 degrees inside this building and there was no air flow. It was a very uncomfortable place to stay.

"The conditions were incredibly difficult to keep your spirits high, no pun intended."

Then, Mother Nature contributed to the horror-film setting with a booming thunderstorm.

"I was so completely terrified and disturbed by everything that first night that I didn't sleep a wink," Bond says. "Katye didn't sleep either. We spent the whole night singing and making up songs. We were scared silly, but we weren't going to cry.

"Nothing really happened while we were in our bedroom. But once we left that room, the game was on."

We won't reveal what happened next. Suffice it to say that Bond came away from the experience completely convinced that "the paranormal is 100 percent real."

Bond used to be hooked on all the TV paranormal shows, but now not so much.

"I don't have the same curiosity any more," she says. "I guess doing it myself has kind of desensitized me to watching other people on TV in those same situations."

That said, there's no chance of her missing her own Stranded episode.

Bond and her husband, Steve, are hosting a big viewing party Wednesday night.

Like everyone else who will be there, she'll be seeing the episode for the first time.

"It's going to be interesting to see the show and to be reminded of how crazy it was," she says. "Let's hope I don't have some kind of breakdown reliving it. Let's hope I can just watch it and enjoy it."

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