CLEARWATER, Fla. -

A terminally ill Clearwater man who was denied a refund by Spirit Airlines, even though he was too sick to fly, has died.

Jerry Meekins' longtime girlfriend, Carol Gray, says the 76-year-old Vietnam veteran died Tuesday night following a two-year battle with esophageal cancer.

Meekins received national attention in April after Spirit Airlines refused to give him a refund for his $197 plane ticket, even though his doctors had ordered him not to fly. He had been trying to get to New Jersey, where his daughter was recovering from knee surgery.

Gray said Meekins ultimately made peace with the airline after the company's CEO personally refunded the cost of the ticket. Spirit Airlines also agreed to give $5,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that helps severely injured veterans.