NEW YORK -- Walter Hudson has left home at last -- courtesy of 10 men and a forklift.
It was a sad end to the story of the United States' most extreme roller-coaster dieter, who made national headlines three years ago when he reduced his weight from more than 1,200 pounds to 598.
"Walter meant a lot to fat America," says a friend, Alexes Bless. "They cared about him and he cared about them. Walter held out hope to fat people all around this country."
But in the end, he couldn't keep the weight off. His body tipped the scales at 1,125 pounds when it arrived at the morgue Christmas Eve, shortly after he died of a heart attack at his Hempstead, N.Y., home. He was 46.
He had not stepped out of that home for more than a year, says a niece, Lottie Whitehead.
Hudson, she says, was embittered by the seesaw regimens he was placed on, and he was preparing to publish his diaries "to show the travesty of liquid diets."
He had abandoned his diet within the past year, and, gorging himself constantly on snack foods, regained all his lost weight within a matter of months, she says.
"He loved dairy," she says.
Once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the heaviest human alive, Hudson was persuaded by diet guru Dick Gregory in 1988 to embark on a weight-loss program.
At the time, Hudson had been a prisoner of his house for nearly 20 years -- unable to walk through its doors.
The publicity attending his slim-down was so great that Hudson became a television pitchman for a diet system called Optatrym.
Tuesday night, the doors of his home were again too small for him. Emergency workers were forced to knock out a 4-by-6-foot section of Hudson's bedroom wall.
The workers made a stretcher with two layers of 3/4 -inch plywood.
"It took 10 guys to carry him out," says Nassau County police spokesman Bill Bendel.
A forklift then moved Hudson to a van.