SAN DIEGO - The former owner and publisher of The San Diego Union-Tribune died Tuesday evening after he was hospitalized following a car crash in La Jolla.
Billionaire David Copley died at Scripps La Jolla Hospital after he suffered a heart attack behind the wheel of his Aston Martin sports car while he was leaving an event. He was 60 years old.
Witnesses told 10News an Aston Martin crashed shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Eads Avenue and Silverado Street. They told 10News they believed the driver was Copley. Police had to shatter the car's side window to get Copley out.
"He wasn't responding," said witness Allan Gale. "They pulled him out of the driver's side and started to give him CPR right away."
Copley had left the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego – where he was president of the board – and drove less than a block before the crash occurred. He was alone in the car.
Copley's friend Dr. Robert Singer announced the death outside the hospital.
"He wasn't feeling well when he left the board meeting, so he left before the reception and he apparently had a heart attack in the car," said Singer.
Copley inherited ownership of the San Diego Union-Tribune and ran the paper until 2009. He was once one of Forbes 400 richest Americans with a net worth of more than $1 billion.
In June 2005, Copley underwent a heart transplant at Sharp Memorial Hospital to later donate a reported $5 million to Sharp Healthcare, leaving some to wonder whether he had bought his way to the front of the transplant wait list.
Copley was no stranger to controversy. He was also arrested several times for drunken driving and served out his time in a county work camp.
However, Copley will mostly be remembered for his contributions to San Diego, its arts and its people.
"He was the kindest and most wonderful friend that anyone could ever wish for," said Singer.