Daily Archives: June 29, 2009

Billy Mays Redux

The autopsy is complete and there are no signs of head trauma, which means it was likely a cardiac event though other things need to be ruled out. Stay tuned.


Billy, Natasha, and Lethal Head Injuries

Remember when you were a kid and you banged your head doing something stupid? Remember how your mother kept coming in and checking on you during the night, waking you up, asking you ludicrous questions? Will it turns out, mom was right.

Yesterday, pitch man Billy Mays died unexpectedly. It is unknown at this time what the exact cause of death was since the autopsy has not been completed, however there is speculation that it could be related to a head entry he suffered on a flight. The plane landed very hard and apparently something fell from the overhead compartment and struck Billy in the head. After the plane landed, he walked off feeling fine and apparently only later began to feel unwell. It’s unclear at this time what his exact symptoms were but apparently when a friend spoke to him on the phone that evening he sounded odd or slow. He went to bed and was found dead early the next morning.


Who can forget the untimely and unexpected death of actress the Natasha Richardson? On March 16, 2009, she suffered a head injury while skiing in Canada. When she was brought off the mountain paramedics were waiting to see her but she said she was fine, sent them away, and went on to her hotel room. Apparently she felt fine for a couple of hours but then developed a headache and was taken to the local emergency room. She deteriorated rapidly and by the time they got her to a major hospital in Montreal, she was brain dead.

Richardson, Natasha

How could this happen? To answer this lets look at what happens in closed head injuries. These are bumps and bangs to the head where there is no skull fracture or open wound present, though an occult skull fracture can easily be part of these types of injuries. The point is that the individual does not look seriously injured and has no open wounds that would cause alarm.

Most blows to the head are harmless but occasionally they can cause damage to the brain tissue or to certain blood vessels within the head, which if injured can lead to bleeding inside the skull. We call any bleed that occurs inside the skull an Intracranial Bleed. They come in three basic types: Epidural, Subdural, and Intracerebral. The difference in these three types lies in the location and the cause of the bleed.

Intracranial Bleeds copy

An Intracerebral Bleed is one that occurs within the brain tissue itself, while the other two types occur in the space between the brain and the skull. Surrounding the brain in this space is a very tough sheath called the Dura Mater. The space between the Dura and the skull is called the Epidural Space, while the space between the Dura and the brain is called the Subdural Space. A bleed into the outer space (between the Dura and the skull) is called an Epidural Bleed while one that occurs in the space closest to the brain (between the Dura and the brain) is called a Subdural Bleed.

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