According to media reports, Gates died in a freak accident. He was at a building in Newbury Park, California, doing electrical work on a roof, when he fell 30 feet from a skylight. Gates was an owner of Gateco Electric, which was employed at the site.
On its Twitter page, "MythBusters" tweeted, "Team MB wishes to express our deepest sympathies on the passing of our beloved rocket expert, Erik," followed by "You were an honorary MythBuster and will be sorely missed."
Gates and his brother also ran Gates Brothers Rocketry.