Believe it or not, the latest celebrity death has a travel angle. TV pitchman Billy Mays, who was found dead in his Tampa home this morning, was a passenger on a US Airways flight yesterday. His son first reported the news on Twitter.
And here’s where things get a little weird.
The highly respected TV Newser blog connects the dots.
Mays was on board a US Airways flight yesterday that made an emergency landing in Tampa after its front tires blew out. It is unsure whether Mays’ death was related to the incident.
Here’s what’s known about the emergency landing, courtesy of the AP:
A Tampa International Airport spokeswoman says a runway was closed after a US Airways jet apparently blew its front tires while landing.
Airport spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan says no passengers or crew on flight 1241 from Philadelphia were hurt when the jet landed Saturday afternoon. The passengers were taken to a secure area and then released to claim their baggage.
The incident left debris on the runway.
Mays was quoted after the landing by a Tampa FOX affiliate:
All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping. It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head.
(TMZ is reporting that Mays wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.)
Mays also commented about the landing on Twitter.
Just had a close call landing in Tampa. The tires blew out upon landing. Stuck in the plane on the runway. You can always count on US Air.
A US Airways spokesman told CNN there were no reported passenger injuries from the flight, and that it would “cooperate fully” with authorities in the investigation.
Is TV Newser speculating that the stress caused by a blown out tire somehow killed him? Or that something hit him on the head, leading to an untimely, Natasha Richardsonesque death?
Sounds a little far-fetched to me. But in a week when death is very fashionable among celebs, I wouldn’t rule anything out.
Let’s wait for the autopsy.
Update (6/28, 4:33 p.m.): US Airways spokesman James Olson has responded to my inquiry:
Yes, I can confirm that [Billy Mays] was on flight 1241 from PHL to Tampa yesterday. We were obviously very sad to learn of Mr. Mays’ passing this morning and have him and his family in our thoughts and prayers today.
The 737-400 blew out its two front tires during its scheduled landing at TPA. There were no reports of injuries by any of the 138 passengers or 5 crew onboard.