Catfish Star Ashley Sawyer Dies Aged 23

2 minute read

This Catfish tale simply couldn’t get more tragic. Ashley Sawyer, who appeared on the second season of the MTV reality series, has died at 23 of unknown causes.

“MTV is deeply saddened to learn that Ashley Sawyer has passed away,” the network said in a statement. “Our condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.”

Sawyer’s episode, which aired in 2013, was particularly memorable because both she and her online crush of seven years, Michael Fortunato, had been catfishing each other and sent false images back and forth. At the conclusion of the installment, both admitted they still had a connection, and Georgia-native Sawyer was planning to visit Fortunato in New Jersey a second time. One month after the episode first aired, Fortunato, 26, died of a pulmonary embolism.

Catfish host Max Joseph tweeted his sadness at Ashley’s passing. “Shocked and saddened by the death of Ashley Sawyer,” he said. “So sweet and kind.”

Sawyer appeared on a recent catch-up episode of Catfish, where she admitted she was living in a sober living facility as she struggled with a drug addiction. Her sister confirmed to MTV that she had completed a treatment program and was living alone at the time of her death.

This article originally appeared on

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at