According to a New York Post source, about 20 minutes after takeoff, Kitsos, of Manhasset, pressed the overhead "help," button and complained about being ill. When flight attendant Ken Pace approached him, Kitsos was "sweating profusely and breathing heavily," and Pace soon afterwards was unable to detect a pulse, the source said. The pilot returned to JFK where it took four police officers to remove Kitsos from the plane.
Sources also told the paper that Kitsos, who owned a successful women's apparel company, was carrying more than $11,000 in cash, in addition to prescription heart and ulcer medication. And in five years of playing professional poker, Kitsos had earned more than $385,000.
His wife, Stella Spanakos, when reached by the Post, said that her husband "... [W]as a character. He lived large and that's the way he went out - Frank Sinatra, 'My Way.' And that's the way he did it."
More via the Post report:
Kitsos, who attended CW Post College and once played professional basketball in Greece, was the owner of KB Studio, a successful women's apparel company for full-figured women, his wife added. " Patti LaBelle wore one of their suits on the Wendy Williams Show," she said.
Just after he left to board his ill-fated flight, Kitsos sent a text message to the couple's 18-year-old autistic son, Nicholas, who does not speak, telling him, "Daddy misses you already," his wife said. Her son responded, Spanakos said, by texting back his dad, "Good luck, you're the best."