“Many of you have already heard about the tragedy that happened two days ago. Jay Pickett, our leading man, writer, producer, and creator of this movie passed away suddenly while we were on location preparing to film a scene,” Mills posted on the film’s Facebook page on Sunday. “There is no official explanation for the cause of his death but it appears to have been a heart attack. Everyone present tried as hard as they could to keep him alive. Our hearts are broken and we grieve for his family who are so devastated by this shocking tragedy.”
Mills said Pickett was an “incredible man” who was “kind, sweet, and generous.”
“He was one of the best actors I ever worked with and it was an honor to collaborate with him. Everyone who met him, even for the briefest moment, could feel his warmth, his wonderful spirit. It is difficult to find the words right now to say more,” Mills added. “His closest friends have said that he was very happy making Treasure Valley and my hope is that he truly was. He was doing what he loved: acting, riding horses, making movies. And he was magnificent.”
One of Pickett’s Treasure Valley co-stars, Jim Heffel, said in a separate Facebook post that he “lost a good friend and the world lost a great person.”
“Jay Pickett decided to ride off into the Heavens,” Heffel wrote. “Jay died sitting on a horse ready to rope a steer in the movie Treasure Valley in Idaho. The way of a true cowboy. Jay wrote the story and starred in it. He was also coproducer with myself and Vernon Walker. He will be truly missed. Ride like the wind partner.”
Pickett, who was born on Feb. 10, 1961 in Spokane, Washington, began his acting career in the 1980s with appearances on television series including Rags to Riches and China Beach. He is best known for his work portraying Frank Scanlon on Port Charles, Dr. Chip Lakin on Days of Our Lives, and Detective David Harper on General Hospital.
In addition, Pickett appeared on shows including NCIS: Los Angeles, Queen Sugar, The Mentalist and Rosewood, and starred in TV movies such as Inspired to Kill, 16 and Missing and The Perfect Student.
He is survived by his wife, Elena, and their three children.