View Full Version : What a way to go! or Don't drink the water.

12-09-2004, 11:35 PM

Official's bizarre death has equally odd explanation

Ginger D. Richardson, Holly Johnson and Kerry Fehr-Snyder
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 9, 2004 07:55 PM

Phoenix's chief financial officer was the consummate professional, a straight-laced and quiet man who was a genius with numbers.

That's why the bizarre manner in which Kevin Keogh died Wednesday - apparently by climbing out the window of his moving Mercedes-Benz on a crowded Scottsdale street - left many not only grieving, but shaking their heads in disbelief.

Keogh's last moments were so completely uncharacteristic of his day-to-day persona that only an equally strange explanation seemed to bring some kind of sense to his death.

City officials say they believe that their finance director was suffering from brain damage caused by a rare parasite that he picked up while traveling in Mexico a few years ago. The damage impairs a person's social decision-making abilities.

The city was not aware of Keogh's illness until Wednesday, when Keogh's wife, Karlene, informed them that the parasite had affected his brain and other parts of his body.

The family said it believes the accident "is related to the impacts of this disease on his central nervous system," City Manager Frank Fairbanks said.

Scottsdale police had not determined late Thursday whether Keogh's death was accidental or intentional. But police said Keogh, 55, climbed out the driver's window of his Mercedes-Benz and stood atop the moving vehicle, arms outstretched.

Witnesses told police that Keogh then jumped from the roof, said Scottsdale police spokesman Detective Sam Bailey. Keogh rolled and hit a tree before landing on the asphalt on Camelback Road near 68th Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police estimate his vehicle was going about 50 mph along Camelback before it crashed into a car stopped at a street light at 68th Street. The driver was not hurt. It's likely Keogh put his vehicle on cruise control before climbing out.

The nature of the incident was completely uncharacteristic of the subdued and often reserved Keogh, who spent most of his days putting together complex financial deals for the city of Phoenix. He was responsible most recently for organizing the sale of bonds to pay for light rail and figuring out how to finance a $350 million city-funded hotel.

Keogh, who always appeared at City Hall in starched shirts and well-tailored pants, was allegedly without shoes and wearing torn jeans at the time of the accident. He never gave any indication at work that he might have been extremely ill.

"That's why I believe it," said Councilwoman Peggy Bilsten, who serves on the board of a non-profit foundation that Keogh and his wife recently founded. "Nothing else makes sense."

Dr. Christina Kwasnica, director of brain injury rehabilitation at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, said in rare cases a parasite, called cystercosis, can cause frontal lobe disinhibition, which can make people do crazy things.

When it comes to making a decision, "our frontal lobes tell us what's socially appropriate," she said. "The first idea that comes to mind, without the frontal lobe stopping it, we just act on it."

She said she has seen that with a few patients from Mexico. Treatment varies, but is limited because frontal lobe damage cannot be repaired.

"You (doctors) can (prescribe) medications to slow down the mood swings so you don't act on bad ideas. Sometimes we also do therapy sessions to develop compensation strategies," Kwasnica said.

On Wednesday, Keogh had taken a sick day to see the doctor and told Fairbanks earlier in the week that he felt "tired and worn out."

City officials also say they knew that Keogh had fallen very ill back in 2002, around the time he returned from a trip to Mexico. Those who worked for him said that during July and August of that year, he frequently left the city during office hours for doctors' appointments.

But according to Fairbanks and others, Keogh never disclosed the exact nature of his illness.

After his death, Karlene Keogh explained his troubles with the parasite to city officials, saying problems had flared up again. He was taking medications to control them problem, but there had been recent talk about adjusting it, Fairbanks said.

The condition is often treated with anti-depressants, doctors said.

The air at the city was decidedly somber Thursday, with some of Phoenix's toughest administrators and negotiators repeatedly breaking down in tears.

At a morning press conference, Bilsten and Mayor Phil Gordon remembered the finance director as a deeply caring man, who loved jazz, theatre, the arts, and worked to help the underprivileged. The foundation that he and his wife jointly founded helps provide health insurance and training to working women, and children in need.

Keogh was also very respected in municipal and local government circles. He won numerous awarded in the roughly 18 years he served as the city's chief financial officer, including being named "Best Finance Director" in the country by "City and State" magazine.

"This is a terrible accident," Gordon said. "He can't and won't be replaced."

Officials don't believe that his work at the city was compromised, as the condition affects social behavior.

For the time being, assistant finance director Jeff DeWitt will run the city's financial operations, officials said. No decision has been made about how to fill the position permanently.

Funeral services for Keogh, who has been with the city since 1976, are set for Monday. For now, employees can only grieve - and wait for answers.

"That is so not Kevin. He was such a quiet, private conservative man," Fairbanks said. "I just can't believe he would die in such a bizarre, strange fashion."

12-09-2004, 11:46 PM
I think the wife must have got some of the parasite to believe that story she told...

12-10-2004, 10:29 AM
BUMP for the day crew

Rain Man
12-10-2004, 10:37 AM
Whoa. That's really, really weird. There are some bizarre diseases and illnesses out there.

Taco John
12-10-2004, 11:24 AM
Sounds like the guy watched one too many episodes of Jackass. I hear that show forces people to do stupid things like car surfing and burning your friends alive.

12-10-2004, 11:27 AM
Maybe he saw a bunch of helium filled sex dolls floating by.

Rain Man
12-10-2004, 11:28 AM
Admit it, endelt. You put him up to it.

12-10-2004, 11:30 AM
Admit it, endelt. You put him up to it.
Well... truth be told, we had been sitting around the house taking bong hits and watching Teen Wolf. We were real big fans of the car surfing scene.

I think Michael J. Fox really deserves the lion's share of the blame here, though.

Ultra Peanut
12-10-2004, 12:11 PM
City officials say they believe that their finance director was suffering from brain damage caused by a rare parasite that he picked up while traveling in Mexico a few years ago. The damage impairs a person's social decision-making abilities.But... but I've never been to Mexico.

Skip Towne
12-10-2004, 12:16 PM
But... but I've never been to Mexico.
Somebody must have emailed the parasite to you then.

12-10-2004, 12:17 PM
Actully this happened to a guy from Blue Springs. The story caight on nationally and I remember he was made fun of on "The Weekend Update" on SNL. He didn't get hurt. He got in trouble...

He was on a plane flight and I guess he just started saying all these crazy things...and start peeing everywhere and even crapped on something. This is strange becuase he is a totally nice guy and a lot of people know him. He built the deck on our old house...

They traced it back to the same thing that went down with this guy. Made quite a stir for a while. The police chief at time vouched for him and there were all of these people who were pissed at him for backing such a "mad man" im not sure if they were aware of the effect this has on someone's mind.