Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who was one of seven major Democratic contenders in Maryland’s gubernatorial race, died early Thursday morning after suffering from cardiac arrest, authorities said.
Kamenetz, 60, was at his Owings Mills home around 2 a.m. when he woke up not feeling well. He drove with his wife to a nearby volunteer fire station where he received emergency treatment before being transported to a hospital. He was pronounced dead shortly after, Baltimore County Fire Department spokeswoman Elise Armacost said at a news conference.
The two-term county executive is survived by his wife, Jill Kamenetz, and their two teenage sons.
Armacost, who knew Kamenetz for almost 25 years, said his sudden death has sent shockwaves through county government.
“By all accounts, he appeared to be in excellent health. He went to a doctor regularly,” she said at the news conference, according to The Associated Press. “This was not a person who had unhealthy habits.”
It’s not clear why Kamenetz drove to a firehouse as opposed to calling 911, said Dr. Gail Cunningham, senior vice president of medical affairs at University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, where he was treated.
“Obviously with these conditions, time is everything, but I don’t know for how long he was suffering from chest pains or symptoms before he chose to do that,” she said at the news conference, adding that people experiencing symptoms of a heart attack should call 911. In Kamenetz’s case, she said, it was determined he suffered from ventricular fibrillation, a life-threatening heart arrhythmia that is common among heart attack victims.
Kamenetz’s running mate, Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin, said she’s heartbroken by the news.
“Like so many, I am shocked and heartbroken by this sudden and unexpected loss. I want to thank those across Maryland for their outpouring of support, sympathy, and gratitude during this difficult time,” she said in a statement posted to their campaign’s website.
“Kevin was first and foremost a loving husband to his wife Jill and a proud father to Karson and Dylan. And he was a dedicated, bold leader who served the people of Baltimore County for over 20 years. I have been honored to call him a friend and partner. Today all of Maryland mourns with his family, friends, and loved ones,” she said.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, whom Kamenetz hoped to face off against in the November election, ordered the state flags to be flown at half-staff. He also expressed his condolences on Twitter.
Kamenetz’s fellow Democrats also spoke out about their heartbreak over his loss, as well as about his character and years of work as a public servant.
Condolences to his family were also shared by government officials and sports teams.