Former Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay, winner of two Cy Young Awards and eight-time All-Star during a 16-year career, died during a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico, just north of Tampa Bay, on Tuesday at the age of 40. His plane, a small single-engine aircraft, went down around noon just off the coast according to Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco. A 911 call was made by a resident at 12:06 PM and when the law enforcement arrived on the scene, the plane was upside down in shallow water. After 4 hours of search and recovery operations, Halliday was found to be the only passenger on the Icon A5. Furthermore, Nocco stated that the National Transportation Safety Board would be investigating the baseball star’s death.
Halladay was a close friend of the sheriff’s office, and Nocco said that Tuesday “was a sad day for us here in Pasco County.”
The Icon A5 is a two-seat “light-sport aircraft” that can land on the ground or water, fold its wings, and be transported by a trailer. Following Halladay’s death, Icon has called Halladay “great advocate and friend” and mentioned that the company would do everything it can to help support the ongoing investigation. Halladay was not the first pilot to die in an Icon A5. On May 8, two Icon employees, then director of engineering and the lead test pilot, were killed in a crash in Napa County, California. According to a report by the NTSB, the most likely cause of the crash was the “pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude.”
After signing a bonus of $895,000 in 1995 as the 17th pick overall in the 1995 draft, Halladay started out his career with the Blue Jays. In 1996, Halladay started to experiment with his pitching style, which would eventually go on to become his “bread and butter” move. At the age of 21, he was the third-youngest pitcher ever to start a game for the Blue Jays. His career seemed to be meteoric, and it was only a matter of time before Halladay would open. However, his 2000 season was so discouraging that he considered retirement. Instead, Halladay made some changes to his pitching, and after five starts and three complete games, he was back in Toronto. Halladay was traded to the Phillies after the 2009 season where he threw a perfect game during the 2010 season.
“There are no words to describe the sadness that the entire Phillies family is feeling over the loss of one of the most respected human beings to ever play the game,” said the Phillies in a statement. Similarly, the Toronto Blue
Jays remarked “It is impossible to express what he has meant to this franchise, the city, and its fans. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.” In addition to starting the Halladay Family Foundation which aids children’s charities, hunger relief, and animal rescue, Halladay was nominated several times for the Roberto Clemente Award, given by MLB to players for sportsmanship and community involvement. He is survived by his two sons and his wife, Brandy Halladay.