Rep. Bill Young turns 'gravely ill' in hospital

Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), the longest serving House Republican, became “gravely ill” overnight, his family said in a statement. 

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“U.S. Rep. C. W. Bill Young's condition turned for the worse over night and he is gravely ill. His doctors say his prognosis is guarded,” said the statement, which his chief of staff, Harry Glenn, provided to The Hill Thursday afternoon. 

The Republican Conference tweeted he was not dead. 

"Rep. Bill Young is not dead, but he is in the hospital. Please join us in praying for his recovery."

The statements come after a report spread on Twitter that Young, 82, had died. A Florida blogger named Peter Schorsch, whose handle is @SaintPetersblog, said he had confirmed Young's death. 

“A relative of Congressman C.W. Bill Young tells me the iconic Republican lawmaker has passed away,” Schorsch first tweeted. Minutes later, he said "multiple sources" had confirmed the congressman's death. 

Fox News reported Young had died, then aired a correction. 

“Alright, I’m really sorry to report that earlier we did report that Congressman Bill Young had passed away. We are now told that is not the case and we of course sincerely apologize for that error. Hopefully that won’t happen again," host Gretchen Carlson said.


NBC News reporter Luke Russert also independently tweeted the congressman's passing. 

Adam Smith, political editor at the Tampa Bay Times, soon tweeted the reports were false. 

Several lawmakers tweeted condolences regarding Young based on the original report, then deleted the messages. 

"Very saddened to learn of the passing of Rep. Bill Young of Florida - the perfect Gentleman - our thoughts and prayers go out to his family," Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) tweeted, according to Politwoops, a website that captures deleted tweets from members of Congress. Long's tweet was deleted after 23 minutes. 

Young, chairman of the powerful defense appropriations subcommittee, has been treated at Walter Reed Medical Center for the last two weeks because of a back injury. 

Former President George W. Bush called Young Wednesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times, thanking him for supporting the military. 

Young announced just last week he would retire from Congress when his term ends in early 2015. He said he wanted to focus on his health and wanted to spend more time with his family. 

At the time, he called Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to notify him he wouldn’t return to the Capitol for a few weeks. 

In a statement Boehner released at the time, he called Young, "a tireless voice for our men and women in uniform and America’s national security, and a dear friend."

This is not the first false alarm about Young's health. In 2011, Young denied a report that he had died.

“Still alive and kicking,” he told National Journal at the time.

Glenn said the congressman’s office notified Capitol Police after police in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area received an anonymous tip saying the congressman had died.

“That was strange,” Glenn said at the time.

—Updated at 3:10 p.m. and 5 p.m. and 6:08 p.m.