Wife of Pitchman Billy Mays Challenges Autopsy

Wife of Pitchman Billy Mays Challenges Autopsy
Billy Mays
Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage

updated 10/16/2009 at 07:00 PM EDT

originally published 10/16/2009 07:00PM

The widow of Billy Mays is challenging the findings of a Florida coroner that the 58-year-old TV salesman's death was caused by or contributed to by cocaine use.

Deborah Mays has hired an independent medical examiner, whose results, while acknowledging the presence of cocaine in May's body, do not suggest that drugs were a deciding factor in his death.

"Billy's family never agreed with the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's conclusion that cocaine use contributed to Bill's death," Deborah Mays writes in a statement.

Dr. William Manion of Medford, N.J. conducted a second investigation but did not physically examine Mays's remains.

Manion tells PEOPLE that he does not believe Mays was a chronic cocaine user based on his review of the autopsy report.

"I look for an enlarged heart, inflammation of the heart and damage to the kidneys, brain and liver in a chronic cocaine user,” Dr Manion says. "I found a 50-year-old, overweight (225 lbs.) man with only one symptom of cocaine use, and that was the thickening of the left ventricle of his heart. “

In his report, Manion wrote, "If cocaine had been considered a significant contributing factor, the manner of death would be classified as 'accidental' and not 'natural.'”

According to spokesman Willie Puz, the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s office is aware of "media reports regarding a differing opinion on the cause of death of Mays," yet stands by its findings.

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