Here’s the complete text of a press release issued today by Deborah Mays, widow of pitchman Billy Mays:
TAMPA, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Billy’s family and I have never agreed with the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s conclusion that cocaine use contributed to Billy’s death. We found this to be so upsetting that we asked for review by an independent medical examiner.
This review, conducted by Dr. William L. Manion, states that the autopsy results do not support the conclusion that cocaine was a contributory cause of Billy’s death. In fact, one of the few areas of agreement between the two reports is that it was a “natural” death. Dr. Manion goes on to say that if cocaine had been considered a significant contributing factor, the manner of death would be classified as “accidental” and not “natural.”
Dr. Manion’s report also says:
“…chronic cocaine use was not demonstrated by the autopsy findings of Mr. William Mays. In addition, there is nothing in his medical, social or professional history to suggest chronic cocaine use. Therefore, I do not believe cocaine played a significant contributing factor in the death of Mr. Mays as the autopsy specimens and findings are not consistent with the cardiac conditions normally observed in a person chronically using cocaine.”
Dr. Manion, M.D., Ph.D, J.D., is consultant medical examiner for Burlington and Ocean Counties, New Jersey and Chief of Pathology for Virtua Health in New Jersey. He is board certified by the American Board of Pathology in both Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and Forensic Pathology, and is a nationally recognized and respected expert in the field of pathology.
We believed at the time — and believe even more now based on Dr. Manion’s report — that the conclusions drawn by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner were not supported by the findings of the autopsy, nor by Billy’s medical history. And, although we cannot undo the damage that has already been done to Billy’s reputation, we are hopeful that this information will assist in clearing the name of a good husband, father and friend.
This has been a very difficult period for our family and we appreciate the continued support that Billy’s many fans have extended. We again thank these fans and the members of the media who have respected our family’s privacy. We are also grateful to Dr. Manion for his thoughtful and objective review of Billy’s autopsy information and the medical literature to make sense of Billy’s untimely death.
It should be noted that this press release does not refute the the original autopsy finding that Mr. Mays used cocaine in the days prior to his death. It only states there was no evidence of chronic use. Not that it matters to us or affects our high opinion of Billy Mays, Jr., the greatest pitchman of our time.