Captain Mark Howard, best known for for his role on Bravo‘s popular reality TV series Below Deck Mediterranean, was found dead in his Florida home on Friday at the age of 65. The reality star captain’s cause of death has yet to be officially revealed, but TMZ reported that he suffered from some sort of tragic accident at home.
According to police reports, Mark Howard’s wife, Susan, said that when she returned home from a week-long dog show trip, she found Mark dead upstairs. His body was lying near a shelf that fallen over and he was reportedly covered in boxes. He had blood on the side of his face and blood droplets were found on the floor next to him as well.
Though it appears that he died in whatever accident occurred at home, it is unclear if he was killed due to any trauma to his body, how long he was there since his wife was away, and if foul play is suspected. An unnamed family friend also corroborated to TMZ that he had died suddenly while at home.
“Our thoughts and sincerest sympathies are with the family and friends of the respected Captain Mark Howard,” Bravo said in an official statement. “As the captain of the first season of Below Deck Med, he will always be remembered for his many contributions and mentorship and will forever remain part of the Bravo family.”
Captain Mark Howard grew up in Michigan and was a boat captain for over 30 years. According to TMZ, he had a pilot’s license as well, and enjoyed flying helicopters.
Appearing on the first 13 episodes of the popular Bravo reality series about the crews of luxury yachts, Howard helped usher in a franchise of Below Deck‘s spinoff series Below Deck Mediterranean, which is still going on after six seasons. Below Deck Sailing Yacht, another spinoff, has aired two seasons, while the original Below Deck franchise series is currently on season 9.
“RIP Captain Mark Howard,” tweeted costar Tiffany Copeland. “You were a joy to be around.”
Copeland was a steward aboard the Ionian Princess, the boat Captain Mark Howard oversaw on the Below Deck series. The yacht sailed around Greece in 2016 during filming, where Howard tried to remain out of the spotlight unless he had to reprimand his crew. On the show, he had a no-nonsense attitude about running his boat, and often came down on the crew for partying and bringing unwelcome guests on board.
“He kind of drove the boat and stayed in his cabin,” said Hannah Ferrier, another stewardess on the Ionian Princess. “I don’t really think I knew what he was up to when I was working with him, let alone three years later… so it was lovely” in comparison to more hands-on, demanding captains that show has had.
Kathy Stover, who also worked with Captain Mark on Below Deck, wrote that she was “Saddened to hear of the loss of Captain Mark Howard.”
“He was so gracious to our group on Season 1 #belowdeckmed and he became a friend,” she said. “Saying prayers for his family.”
Fans also shared tributes to Captain Mark Howard on social media, mourning his death and expressing their love of the Below Deck Mediterranean cast.
“I am so saddened to hear of Captain Mark Howard’s passing,” a fan commented on Twitter. “He was very kind.”
On the series, Captain Mark Howard offered his crew, and any aspiring Below Deck crew members, just one golden rule of advice: “Be honest, work hard, and pay attention to senior crew members while never forgetting the golden rule of yachting: ‘The guest is always right.'”