LANSING (WWJ) – A state lawmaker from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has apparently taken his own life following his second drunken driving arrest.
State Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette was allegedly driving “super drunk” — with a blood alcohol level of at least .17, more than twice the legal limit — when he was pulled over by deputies in Clinton County, near Lansing. Under Michigan law, .17 BAC or above is considered “super drunk” and can result in steeper penalties.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reports the 47-year-old was taken into custody at around 4 p.m. Monday.
“He spent the night in the jail, was arraigned and was supposed to be back in court on May the 18th. He reportedly came to his home ,which he rents here in town on Chestnut Street in Lansing, and the reports are now that he took his own life sometime today,” Skubick said.
In a statement, House Democratic Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) confirmed Kivela’s death, offering condolences on behalf of the party.
“I am deeply saddened at the passing of state Rep. John Kivela,” Singh said, in a statement emailed to WWJ. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Sandy, and his two children. He was a champion for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and a strong advocate for working people throughout Michigan. He was my friend, and I will miss him. We will always remember the impact that he made on this institution and the state of Michigan.”
On the other side of the aisle, Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, also spoke well of his colleague.
“We are all devastated to hear the news about Rep. Kivela today. He was a good friend and partner to everyone he met in the House, and he was an absolute joy to work with. He cared deeply about his family, his community, and his work as a public servant, and it came through strongly in every conversation we had,” Leonard said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, including his wife Sandy and his two children. This is a terrible loss, and he will be truly missed.”
In 2015, Kivela pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in the same county, was sentenced to probation, and entered a treatment program.
He was serving a third and final term as state House of Representative and had announced he planned to run for Michigan’s 38th Senate District seat next year.