‘Catfish’ star Michael Fortunato dies aged 26
Michael Fortunato, the 26-year-old star from ‘Catfish’ series two, passed away in Hartford Connecticut on Saturday as the result of a pulmonary embolism.
The New Jersey native starred in the ‘Ashley and Mike’ episode from season two – which has not yet aired in Australia and New Zealand – with the episode following Mike and Ashley Sawyer as they met for the first time after being in a seven-year online relationship.
Mike’s younger sister, Gena, confirmed the news of her brother’s death to MTV News on Monday night US time, and spokesperson for the Farmington, Connecticut, chief medical examiner’s office explained that Fortunado died at Hartford Hospital as a result of a pulmonary embolism due to deep vein thrombosis. Other significant contributing factors included obesity and cardiomyopathy.
Ashley has opened up about Mike’s death, revealing that he’d texted her early Saturday morning saying he was considering going to the hospital but later wrote that he’d changed his mind.
Gena told MTV News that her brother ended up leaving his workplace early to drive himself to the hospital, but swerved and hit a fence en route. When the paramedics arrived at the scene they transported him to hospital, but two hours later, Gena received a call from her mum to say that Mike had died.
“I don't even know where to start,” Gena said, still clearly struck by the loss of her big brother.
“He was a little kid at heart – a gentle giant. He's somebody who put everybody before himself; everybody else came before him. The biggest heart that you'd ever meet.”
Ashley echoed Gena’s sentiments calling Mike “the most honest, loyal person I’d ever met in my life.”
“He would give anybody the last shirt he had – anything. He would put his life on hold just to make sure other people moved forward. He always put people first.”
Ashley and Mike had planned to spend New Year’s together in her hometown of Atlanta, where Gena and Ashley were expected to meet each other in person for the first time.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Michael Fortunato,” read a statement from an MTV spokesperson.
“Our condolences, thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”
‘Catfish: The TV Show’ airs Tuesdays @ 8.30pm on MTV.