August 8, 2009 in Nation/World

Cocaine role cited in death of Mays

Associated Press
 
Chris O'meara photo

Mays
(Full-size photo)

TAMPA, Fla. – An official autopsy report released Friday found that cocaine use contributed to the heart disease that suddenly killed TV pitchman Billy Mays in June, but his family called the finding “speculative” and was considering getting an independent look at the results.

The Hillsborough County medical examiner’s office previously determined that the bearded, boisterous TV spokesman had a heart attack in his sleep. His wife found him unresponsive in bed in their Tampa condo June 28.

Mays, 50, was a pop-culture fixture with his energetic commercials pitching gadgets and cleaning products like Orange Glo and OxiClean.

While heart disease was the primary cause of his death, the medical examiner listed cocaine as a “contributory cause of death.”

The medical examiner “concluded that cocaine use caused or contributed to the development of his heart disease, and thereby contributed to his death,” the office said in a press release.

The office said Mays last used cocaine in the few days before his death but was not under the influence of the drug when he died. Hillsborough County spokeswoman Lori Hudson said nothing in the toxicology report indicated the frequency of Mays’ cocaine use.

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