Michigan State Rep. John Kivela is dead after an apparent suicide.
The Democratic vice chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee was arrested on suspicion of DUI on Monday night and was set to be arraigned on May 18, according to Fox Detroit.
Kivela served in Michigan’s 109th district. He is survived by his wife and their two children.
Here is what you need to know:
1. He Was Found Dead Inside His Home in Lansing
Police were seen at Kivela’s home on Chestnut Street before the news of his apparent suicide was reported. A death investigation is said to be ongoing.
LPD Public Information Officer Robert Merritt said that there was “no obvious indication of foul play.”
2. He Was Arrested on Monday, May 9, 2017, on Suspicion of DUI
On Monday afternoon, police stopped a 48-year-old man on U.S. 127 “following 911 calls about a vehicle driving erratically,” Sheriff Lawrence Jerue told the Free Press on Tuesday. The man’s name was not identified by police, but the Free Press was able to confirm that it was Kivela who was taken into custody.
After a field sobriety test, Kivela was taken to jail where he spent the night.
3. He Was Previously Charged with DUI
In 2015, Kivela was arrested in Clinton County after police noticed him driving erratically. According to M Live Michigan, Kivela had an open bottle of whiskey in the vehicle. He was given a breathalyzer test and he blew a .238.
The politician was sentenced to a year of probation and was forced to pay $1,600 in fines after pleading guilty to the charge.
In November of that same year, during his second term in the Michigan House, Kivela announced that he decided to seek treatment. At the time, he released the following statement about his decision.
“I am truly sorry to my wife, family and constituents for letting them down. I have battled with alcoholism for most of my adult life. My dependence on alcohol has become a problem, and I plan to seek treatment immediately.”
4. He Was Seeking a Seat in the Senate
Kivela was in his third and final term in the House. He recently announced that he would be running for a Senate seat. He made the announcement in April during the Marquette Township Hall.
“The Senate seat is that natural next step for me,” he told the crowd.
He talked about the things that he accomplished while serving as a state rep and seemed to be looking forward to taking this next step in his political career.
“We talked about meth, we talked about creating the next Michigan economic development zone, we talked about career and technical education being a priority and I’ve checked those boxes — boom, boom, boom. We’ve passed those bills, we’ve signed them into law. I did what I said I would do,” he said. “The one promise I made to people, only one, was that I’d work with anyone to bring results back to this district and I’ve done that. I’m not a big promise guy, but that’s the one thing I said I would do. Republicans, Democrats, it doesn’t matter. I’ll work with anyone to bring results back,” he added.
5. Leaders in the Michigan Legislature Are Expected to Release a Statement Today
“We are deeply saddened to learn of John Kivela’s death. Having served with John in the legislature, I know how much he cared about his family, his friends, and the people he served in Marquette. Our hearts, prayers, and deepest condolences go out to his wife, Sandy, and his children, Shelby and Andrew,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon said in a statement.
Those working in the House have adjourned for the day following the tragic news of Kivela’s passing.