Billy Mays: Autopsy Says Heart Disease Killed TV Pitchman

Billy Mays dies from heart disease and not head trauma.

ByABC News via logo
June 29, 2009, 8:36 AM

June 29, 2009 — -- Autopsy results released today indicate that famously bearded TV pitchman Billy Mays' death was not caused by head trauma but, rather, a heart problem, according to Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Dr. Vernard Adams.

The results, available on the same day that authorities released dramatic 911 calls from the family home the night of his death, showed he had an enlarged heart, with officials saying they would perform toxicology tests but that there was "no indication of drug abuse."

Adams said Mays was taking the prescription painkillers Tramadol and hydrocodone for hip pain, and that pill counts showed he had been taking the correct dosages.

The autopsy results for the salesman with the recognizable voice who was known for hawking products like Orange Glo and OxiClean, noted extensive heart disease and muscular thickening of the left ventricle. But authorities are withholding the cause of death until all tests are complete. No clots were found, officials said.

Mays' wife, Deborah Mays, discovered her 50-year-old husband unresponsive Sunday in the family's Tampa, Fla., home.

A 911 recording captured a distraught woman, presumably Deborah Mays, saying she woke up next to Mays. "I went to roll him over and his lips are all purple," the woman said. "And he's cold."

She said Mays wasn't awake or breathing.

The operator tried to talk the woman through CPR, by first having her move Mays to the floor. But a man on the phone told the operator, "It's too late. He's gone."

"I cannot move him. He's all rigid," he said on the emergency recording.

Mays had returned to his Florida home a day before his death after shooting a commercial.

Deborah Mays found him dead after Mays complained of not feeling well when he went to bed at about 10 that night.

"Although Billy lived a public life, we don't anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days," she said in a statement Sunday. "Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times."

Initially, some drew comparisons between the "As Seen on TV" salesman's death andactress Natasha Richardson's. Mays had been a passenger Saturday on a US Airways flight from Philadelphia that blew its front tires while landing, causing him to hit his head. The airplane landed at Tampa International Airport and left debris on the runway.

He was able to get up, walk away and seemed fine, not unlike Richardson after her skiing accident earlier this year.