“Wicked Tuna” star William Joseph “Willbilly” Hathaway, 36, died Saturday after the truck he was driving was involved in a wreck in Salisbury, Maryland.
Hathaway was a crew member on the Foolish Pleasures, featured on the Nat Geo’s fishing show. The series depicts fishermen on the hunt for bluefin tuna.
Maryland State Police said at about 4:10 p.m., they received a call from a concerned citizen after they passed by a vehicle in a ditch on Old Ocean City Road west of Richardson Road.
The occupant and driver of the Toyota truck was determined to be Hathaway, police said.
Police said Hathaway had called his wife on a cellphone and stated he was OK but someone turned in front of him and he had to swerve into a ditch. She also heard him state to concerned citizens that stopped at the scene that he was OK.
However, by the time emergency personnel and troopers arrived, Hathaway was observed to be non-breathing and slumped over the center console, police said. He was immediately transported to Peninsula Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
The Facebook group Ocean City, MD Fishing Community changed its profile photo to commemorate him: “Rest in Paradise & Tight Lines. Love ya Will Billy.”
Wes Pollitt, an administrator of the group, posted about Hathaway’s death on the page.
“As many of you know, yesterday afternoon we lost one of the best fishermen on the planet,” wrote Pollitt. “For those of you who knew Willbilly, knew he was an amazing fisherman but more importantly he was an amazing person.”
Others posted prayers while praising Hathaway as someone known for offering help to others.
Police said minimal damage was sustained by Hathaway’s Toyota truck and it does not appear consistent with the driver suffering fatal injuries. There was no airbag deployment.
The incident remains under investigation, police said.
Hathaway left behind a wife and infant daughter. A fundraising page on Facebook was established to help the family.
Hathaway is not the only “Wicked Tuna” star to die young. Nicholas “Duffy” Fudge, a fisherman who was part of the cast of the reality television show, died at age 28 in July.
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