Michael Mosley’s cause of death and how his holiday turned to tragedy

Cameraman who found Michael Mosley's body speaks

Source: Sky News

An initial autopsy on British TV presenter Dr Michael Mosley has revealed he died from “natural causes” on the day he went missing.

The body of Mosley, 67, was found on Sunday (local time), four days after he disappeared while holidaying on the Greek island of Symi.

An initial examination of his remains found no injuries on his body – or no “criminal element” – that could have caused his death, according to multiple media outlets.

The celebrity doctor’s time of death was about 4pm on Wednesday last week – the same day he vanished after setting out for a walk.

Mosley had left Agios Nikolaos beach at about 1.30pm Wednesday. The findings indicate he died just 2½ hours later after taking a wrong turn on a scorching trek through the hills.

Tragically, his body was found just metres from a bar at Agia Marina.

Several media outlets report that CCTV footage from the area where his body was found appears to show Mosley was on the last leg of his hike before he collapsed.

The Daily Mail quoted Symi police commander Dimos Kotsidaras who said it looked like Mosley died from “heat exhaustion” after walking in high temperatures.

The body was transferred to the neighbouring island of Rhodes for more tests after a coroner at the scene excluded any criminal act. Further toxicology tests will determine the exact cause of death, but could take months.

Symi mayor Lefteris Papakalodoukas said Mosley’s body was spotted as he and others, including journalists from state TV channel ERT, filmed the area from a vessel.

“We analysed the recorded evidence and it was obvious that it was, unfortunately, Mosley,” Papakalodoukas said.

“He was found 10 metres away from the sea, 10 to 15 metres from his destination, the beach of Agia Marina, between a fence and a path.”

The local cameraman who discovered the body was emotional as he recounted the moment they realised it could be Mosley. Antonios Mystilovlou told Britain’s Sky News how they used an iPhone to take a picture of the screen and zoomed in to confirm it was indeed a man “lying down” with “his hand on his belly”.

“The description is exactly of the guy we were looking for,” a clearly emotional Mystilovlou said.

A few minutes later he looked more closely at his footage.

“There was the body. He was laying down with his hand on his belly and he’s carrying his bag in his other hand,” he told Sky News.

A statement issued on behalf of Mosley’s wife Dr Clare Bailey indicated he climbed, “took the wrong route and collapsed where he couldn’t be easily seen by the extensive search team”.

“Michael was an adventurous man, it’s part of what made him so special,” the statement said.

Mosley’s life

Mosley was well known as an advocate for healthy living, whose work brought him to Australia to produce documentary series such as 2022’s Australia’s Health Revolution and this year’s Australia’s Sleep Revolution.

He initially studied philosophy, politics and economics before working as a banker for two years.

He then decided to study psychiatry and enrol in medical school.

But he soon became disappointed by the “severe limitations to what you could do” as a psychiatrist and turned to TV instead, becoming a trainee producer with the BBC.

Michael Mosley risked his body for research. Photo: BBC

After working behind the camera for 20 years, Mosley began presenting, gaining fame for being unafraid of putting his body on the line.

Trialling everything from magic mushrooms to tapeworms, Mosley seemed happy to turn himself into a human guinea pig in the name of science and good TV.

“His methodology was to take complex ideas and make them very much more available and accessible,” Mimi Spencer, who co-authored The Fast Diet with Mosley, told BBC Radio 4’s World This Weekend.

“He used himself as a human guinea pig. He did it because he was fascinated by the science. But he was also really interested in getting a story across to people.”

Mosley was credited with popularising the 5:2 diet, which he tried as one of his more tame experiments, and which reversed his type 2 diabetes.

He was also a successful author. His books, such as The Fast 800, reached one million sales in Australia and New Zealand in 2020.

Despite his success, Mosley’s work around weight-loss diets proved controversial at times.

In 2020, the Channel 4 series Lose a Stone in 21 Days with Michael Mosley was criticised for promoting unhealthy relationships with food.

UK charity Beat said Channel 4 had ignored concerns and advice about how to present the program in a non-triggering way for people struggling with eating disorders, leading the charity to extend its helpline hours.

Timeline of disappearance and body recovery

Wednesday, 1.30pm: Mosley was last seen by his wife at 1.30pm as he set off for a solo walk on Symi. Leaving Agios Nikolaos beach, he was believed to have been heading for nearby Pedi, a walk that should have taken 20 minutes.

Wednesday, 1.52pm: CCTV footage released days later showed a man matching Mosley’s description walking along the main street of Pedi about 20 minutes after he had left Agios Nikolaos beach.

CCTV footage from Pedi showing a man thought to be Mosley. Photo: Supplied

Thursday: Bailey reported her husband missing on Thursday morning after he failed to return to their accommodation, where he reportedly had also left his phone.

An extensive search was launched on the small island, aided by fire department, police, dogs, helicopters, drones and local volunteers. Police initially believed Mosley had “fallen from a height” after his walk in 37-degree heat.


Authorities on the island of Symi searched for Mosley for days. Photo: AAP

Friday: Divers joined the search, and Mosley’s four children landed on the island.

Sunday: In the morning, a body believed to be Mosley was found on Symi’s rocky coast near a beach bar in Agia Marina, north of Pedi.

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