Bre Payton, a staff writer at the right-wing website The Federalist, died on Friday at age 26 after a brief and sudden illness.
The news was reported on Twitter by Payton’s good friend, San Diego politician Morgan Murtaugh, who found the 26-year-old Payton unconscious in her room Thursday morning before rushing her to a San Diego hospital for treatment.
The exact cause of death remains unclear, but a website set up by Payton’s family said she had been struck by flu and possibly meningitis.
Officials at the San Diego Medical Examiner’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wheeler had flown into San Diego in order to host the show. “Everyone says she seemed perfectly fine on Wednesday when she hosted,” OANN host Jack Posobiec told TheWrap. “Bre was a young star who always shared her Christian faith. All of us are in shock and tears and we are praying for her family.”
According to Payton’s Caring Bridge page, Bre was hospitalized on Thursday and treated in the intensive care unite. “After a CT scan and hours of testing, they have determined she has the H1N1 flu and possibly meningitis,” the site read.
But her condition deteriorated on Friday.
Then on Friday came the tweet from Murtaugh, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in California’s 53rd district this year: “Thank you everyone for your prayers. It is with a heavy heart that I type this. Unfortunately Bre has passed. Please send prayers to her family. Rest in paradise you beautiful soul.”
In her brief career Payton, had established herself as a fixture in conservative media. In the hours between when her illness became public and her passing, dozens of pundits and journalists offered their support and prayers, including her boss, Federalist publisher Ben Domenech.
“I am asking you all to pray this morning for our own @Bre_payton, who is battling a horrible and sudden medical condition,” he said.