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.
The First Lady and I are shocked and grieved by the sudden passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. Our prayers go out to his family and many loved ones this morning.
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.
Kevin Kamenetz’s passing is a tremendous loss for Maryland. He was a dedicated public servant, and I considered him a friend. My heart goes out to Jill and his family, along with his many friends and staff.
I’m shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Kevin Kamenetz. One of the unexpected joys of this campaign had been getting to know Kevin’s wonderful wit and humor. His perspective and dedication will be missed. My sympathies go out to Jill and his entire family.
I am deeply saddened by the sudden death of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. My heart is with his family and the entire Baltimore County community. Kevin dedicated himself to our community and his good works are all around us. He will be deeply missed.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. We are saddened and shocked by the news. Kevin was a tireless supporter of BCPS, and I am thankful for his commitment and dedication to the children of Baltimore County." -- @VerlettaWhitepic.twitter.com/VvuXr9VfON
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