Anchor Todd Tongen Killed Himself as He Believed He Had Same Dementia

October 11, 2018

Longtime Miami journalist and anchor Todd Tongen committed suicide at the age of 56, according to his brother and the station where he worked for three decades.

Just two days after it was announced that the Emmy Award-winning journalist, who worked at WPLG Local 10 News for 30 years, was found dead in his home, ABC-TV confirmed his death on Wednesday.

According to the outlet, his wife was vacationing in Italy with their young son and was unable to reach her husband. She asked a friend to check on Tongen’s condition; police were eventually called and the journalist was found dead Monday morning.

The news came as a shock to many who knew him, including his brother, Dr. Scott Tongen, who told the outlet that he had no idea Todd was struggling.

“As far as I know, I really don’t think he was considering ending his life,” he told Local 10, noting that Todd had plans for upcoming trips to Las Vegas and Canada.” But there’s obviously something that’s haunting him.”

“He left some garbled messages that we haven’t seen yet, but there was a simple note that said he was lost and to forgive him,” Tongen added.

 

Although his death was unexpected, Scott said he believes his brother suffered from an imminent fear of dying from Lewy body dementia (LBD), a progressive disease that also took their mother’s life in August 2017.

“I’m sure he thought he had the disease,” Tongen told Local 10, noting that his brother had always had some balance issues and their mother experienced them during the insertion phase of the disease.” Whether there is solid evidence or not, I think he thought he had the disease, and that may be enough.”

According to Robin Williams’ widow, Susan Williams, LBD is the disease Robin Williams suffered from before he committed suicide in August 2014 at the age of 63.

Following the news, WPLG President and CEO Bert Medina released a statement to the outlet about Todd and what the news station remembers most about him.

 

“We are shocked and saddened by the passing of Todd Towne, but we choose to remember the way he lived his life,” said Medina.” Todd was a very talented journalist. He worked at WPLG for 30 years, telling the stories of people in our community and giving so much of himself to this community. He is an incredible person. He lit up the room with his warm personality.”

“As difficult as it is, our news team is covering the circumstances of Todd’s death.” He added.” We will be covering the painful topic of suicide and mental health, so maybe we can help someone who is struggling. We miss Todd terribly. Our staff is hurting, but I commend them for how they handled this situation with grace, strength and professionalism.”

 

Todd first joined Local 10 in December 1989, but he began his broadcasting career in his home state of Minnesota in 1983, according to Local 10. He started at the station by forecasting the weather, but recently shared the anchor station on weekend mornings.

According to the outlet, Todd has also welcomed numerous celebrities to the back of his 1967 Checker cab, including Dana Carvey, Joan Rivers, David Cassidy, Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Eva Mendes.

The longtime news anchor is survived by his wife, Karen, and sons Tyler and Ryker.

In 2015, he told Local 10, “I’ve skydived, bungee jumped, ridden on the back of a whale, flown with the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds, so there’s not much left on my bucket list.”

“Maybe, ah, crochet a sweater, or, you know, I’d love to, you know – travel would be a big item on my bucket list,” Todd said.” I’d like to go to Bora Bora, and I’d like – I’d like to – be in another feature film. I’d like to be in a blockbuster, even if it’s the smallest role. I just want to, you know, a big hit so I can say, you know, take my kids and ‘Have Daddy’.”

In September, he shared a family photo on Instagram, noting how much his sons have grown.” What happened? The kids are men now!”