Hathaway was driving in Salisbury, Maryland on Saturday when his truck swerved into a ditch, Delmarva Now reports. Police said he called his wife to tell her that he was OK, but that someone had turned in front of him, causing him to swerve into the ditch. She said she also heard him tell concerned passersby that he was OK.
But by the time emergency responders arrived on the scene, the fisherman was slumped over the center console and not breathing, police say. He was later pronounced dead at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.
Police said the Toyota truck Hathaway was driving sustained minimal damage and that it does not appear consistent with the driver suffering fatal injuries. The truck's airbags did not deploy in the crash, which remains under investigation.
A crew member on the Foolish Pleasures, Hathaway was featured on Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks, which followed fishermen on the hunt for blue tuna fin in North Carolina's Outer Banks. Foolish Pleasures finished in third place.
The Facebook group Ocean City, MD Fishing Community changed its profile photo to commemorate him. "Rest in Paradise & Tight Lines. Love ya Will Billy."
Wes Pollitt, an administrator of the Facebook group, posted about Hathaway's death on the page. "As many of you know, yesterday afternoon we lost one of the best fishermen on the planet," Pollitt wrote. "For those of you who knew Willbilly, knew he was an amazing fisherman but more importantly he was an amazing person."
Others in the group posted prayers and remembered him as someone known for offering help to others.
Hathaway is survived by a wife and an infant daughter. A fundraising Facebook page was established to help Hathaway's family. At press time on Monday, it had raised $57,000 of its $250,000 goal.
"He was an exceptional human being whose passion was the sea," fundraiser page reads. "He always brightened the day of anyone he met. His wife and new born baby girl he was most proud of. Due to his untimely death we are asking for donations to help them stay on their feet while trying to survive this tragedy. Thank you in advance."
Hathaway had shared a photo of himself holding up a large bluefine tuna on Thursday that he said weighed 150 pounds.