William “Willbilly” Hathaway, star of the National Geographic reality show “Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks,” has died at the age of 36. Hathaway was involved in a fatal car crash on Dec. 15 in Salisbury, Maryland.
Maryland State Police told WBOC16 that Hathaway called his wife and told her that he had been in an accident but that he was not seriously injured. However, he was not breathing when emergency responders arrived, and he was pronounced dead at Salisbury’s Peninsula Regional Medical Center. Police are investigating the cause of death.
Hathaway leaves behind his wife, Mary, and an infant daughter, Molly. In the wake of his tragic and untimely death, a fundraising page has been set up for this family on Facebook.
“He was an exceptional human being whose passion was the sea,” the message on the fundraising page reads. “He always brightened the day of anyone he met. His wife and newborn baby girl he was most proud of. Due to his untimely death we are asking for donations to help them stay on their feet while trying to survive this tragedy. Thank you in advance. The Ocean City Fishing Community.”
The page has since raised over $69,000 dollars.
Hathaway acted as the first mate on the “Foolish Pleasures” fishing boat, where he appeared on seasons three through five of “Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks.” The series follows bluefin tuna fishermen in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
The “Foolish Pleasures” Facebook page posted a tribute to Hathaway. “I have had some of the best days in my life with Will ( Willbilly) Hathaway and still remember the day I met him when he came walking down the dock to my boat at the Fishing Center ,” the tribute reads.
The post goes on to say of Hathaway, “He lived to fish and you could not have a better time fishing with anyone, he and I killed a lot of fish together and I learned a lot from him, he was one of the most original, genuine and real people you could ever know and anyone who knew him knew this. He will be horribly missed by everyone whose life he touched, words cannot express a tragedy like this. RIP Willbilly.”
Sadly, this is not the first death of the year for the stars of “Wicked Tuna.” In July 2018, another “Wicked Tuna” star, Nicholas S. “Duffy” Fudge, died suddenly at the age of 28. Duffy was the first mate on the “Pinwheel” fishing vessel.