Smash star Megan Hilty suffers an unimaginable family tragedy

Tony-nominated actress Megan Hilty, also known to television audiences for her starring role on the short-lived NBC series Smash opposite American Idol alumna Katharine McPhee, is a powerhouse on the Broadway stage and on the small screen. Hilty has maintained a lasting presence in the theater world with roles in productions such as Wicked, 9 to 5: The Musical and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Unfortunately, this time it’s not good news that Hilty has in the headlines. Unfortunately, it’s a devastating personal update for Hilty and her extended family. As ABC News reported, Hilty suffered an unimaginable family tragedy on September 4 near Seattle, Washington, when her sister, brother-in-law and young nephew died in a plane crash along with seven other occupants. “I can’t even imagine what she’s going through,” one fan tweeted about the tragedy, while another wrote, “I know the entire Broadway community is sending out all the power of love that she has.” The Governor from Washington Jay Inslee even commented on the heartbreaking situation, writing that he and his wife Trudi were “devastated at the loss of those on board the plane.” He added, “Our hearts are with their families and communities today.”

As of this writing, Hilty has yet to release its own statement on the situation – however, multiple reports have confirmed details of the tragedy and revealed a devastating picture for all involved.

Megan Hilty’s sister was pregnant at the time of the accident

A seaplane (aka a plane designed to land on water) carrying Megan Hilty’s sister Lauren Hilty crashed in Washington’s Mutiny Bay — which is about 30 miles outside of Seattle, the city’s King 5 reported. Lauren, who was due to give birth to a baby boy named Luca in October, was also joined by her husband, winery owner Ross Mickel, and the couple’s 23-month-old son Remy, according to the New York Times. Mickel was also a father to daughter Lyla, who was frequently featured in pictures on his Instagram account.

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A press release from the US Coast Guard 13th District Pacific Northwest confirmed the pilot as Jason Winter and other passengers as Patricia Hicks, Sandra Williams, Luke Ludwig, Rebecca Ludwig, Joanne Mera and Gabrielle Hanna. The US Coast Guard determined that Remy was the only minor on the plane. At the time of the US Coast Guard press release, only one body had been recovered but had not yet been publicly identified because the victim’s relatives had not yet been contacted.

The cause of the crash is unknown at this time. However, witnesses described a disturbing scene in which a local resident told Komo News that the plane’s engine changed in noise before its nose plunged into the water with great force. “It was so loud it literally shook my house,” the resident said of the plane’s impact. As reported by Komo News, The National Transportation Safety has assigned a seven-person team to investigate the incident.

The Hilty and Mickel families speak out

A statement on behalf of the families of Ross Mickel and Lauren Hilty, shared with Seattle’s King 5, reads: “We are deeply saddened and beyond devastated by the loss of our beloved Ross Mickel, Lauren Hilty, Remy and their unborn boy Luca . Our collective grief is unimaginable.” It continued, “They were a bright and shining light in the lives of everyone who knew them. Although their time with us was too short, we will carry on their legacy.” The family also asked for privacy, as she navigates this unimaginable news.

Before her death, Ross and Lauren appeared to be enjoying life as a growing family. On Mother’s Day, for example, Ross took to Instagram to share a post about taking Lauren out for lunch and shopping — and even more heartbreakingly, he pointed out that the trip included gifting son Remy a Hot Wheels toy car. Other posts reveal Ross’s love of cooking, his daughter and of course wine. As Ross Andrew Winery’s website reveals, Ross traveled the world “to learn everything he could about food and wine” before embarking on an illustrious career in the industry, culminating in the founding of his own winery in 1999.

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Megan Hilty pointed out in a 2020 interview with King 5 that Lauren still lived in her native Washington, along with her parents and another sister. “I typically come to the Seattle area several times a year to see my family and just enjoy the glory of the Pacific Northwest,” Megan said at the time. “A little piece of my heart is always there.”