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Did Turbulent Flight Kill Billy Mays?

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, June 29, 2009 8:33 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical
Tags: Traumatic Brain Injury, TBI, Head Injury, Coumadin

A head injury may have led to the death of Billy Mays at age 50.

Preceeded His Death



IMAGE SOURCE:  CBS News Web site/ Billy Mays


You know him from his bombastic television ads for OxiClean and Orange Glo.

Pitchman, Billy Mays, 50, was found dead in his Tampa home early Sunday. Mays was on US Airways flight 1241 from Philadelphia to Tampa Saturday afternoon, when the plane made an emergency landing after two of the plane’s front tires blew out.

Mays told his wife he hit his head on the cabin ceiling and that he didn’t feel good. 

Mays told Fox 13 in Tampa about the bumpy landing in his last tv interview.

"All of a sudden as we hit, you know, it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping," Mays told Fox 13 in Tampa. "It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head” reports the New York Daily News. 

The interview has already made it to YouTube.   

His wife was unable to revive him around 7:45 Sunday morning.  Police report there were no signs of foul play. 

An airline spokeswoman said no one reported any injuries.  Whether the head injury led to his death is unknown at this time.  An autopsy will be performed this week.

Mays was reported to be in good health other than a scheduled hip replacement surgery. 

Reminiscent of Natasha Richardson

His death is eerily reminiscent of English actress Natasha Richardson, who died of traumatic head injury while skiing in Canada on March 18, 2009.

After a minor fall she got up laughing and returned to her hotel room, but soon complained of a serious headache. Eventually she was flown to a New York hospital, but it was too late. Bleeding around the skull eventually led to brain death.

More Common Than You Think

In the U.S. roughly 1.5 to 2 million people incur traumatic brain injury, TBI, primarily in vehicle accidents, falls, acts of violence and sports accidents.  

It is the number one cause of death and disability among children and young adults, according to the Brain Injury Resource Foundation (BIRF), a resource on brain injuries for survivors. 

The human body and head are designed to withstand collisions no more than about 15 mph.  Unfortunately in a collision the brain moves inside the skull causing swelling or bruising, called a concussion. 

The worst outcome is a brain-bleed, which is life threatening.  Brain swelling may not be felt immediately, leaving the injured with an impression they are fine.    

Concussions can occur in a series, the first one making a second concussion more likely.  Later concussions may become more life threatening, though no one knows whether Richardson or Mays had suffered any earlier head injuries. 

Being on the blood thinner, Coumadin, makes a brain-bleed more likely.   

Receiving an MRI after a head injury will let doctors know if there is TBI.

More people are surviving TBI due to faster emergency care, but unfortunately many people do not realize they need that care until it is too late.     # 

1 Comment

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, June 29, 2009 2:00 PM EST

USA Today reporting a few minutes ago that head trauma did not lead to Mays death.

"The infomercial king died from a pulmonary embolism, according to the coroner in Tampa, Fla., who announced preliminary autopsy results at a press conference today, reports People. Evidence of heart disease was also found.

According to Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Vernard Adams, Mays "had an enlarged heart, a thickening of the wall of the ventricle which takes blood to the heart." Final results of the autopsy and cause of death will not be known for several weeks."

Comments for this article are closed.

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