Autopsy results are yet to be released, but it is believed that Fortunato succumbed to a pulmonary embolism resulting from deep vein thrombosis and that factors like obesity and cardiomyopathy were also involved in his death.
During “Catfish,” couples in online relationships meet in real life. Prior to going on the show, Fortunato and Ashley Sawyer were involved in a seven-year online relationship. They met for the first time during the 10th episode of the second season of the show.
“He would give anybody the last shirt he had -- anything," Sawyer, 20, said following his death. "He would put his life on hold just to make sure other people moved forward. He always put people first."
Fortunato’s sister Gena echoed those sentiments.
"I don't even know where to start," Gena said. "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."
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Michael Fortunato. Our condolences, thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."