UP lawmaker found dead hours after highway arrest

Rep. John Kivela
An undated photo of Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, courtesy Michigan House Democrats.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A state representative from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has been found dead hours after he was released from jail on what may have been his second drunken driving arrest in less than two years.

Police say John Kivela’s body was found about 1 p.m. Tuesday at a Lansing home and that there are no obvious indications of foul play.

Clinton County Sheriff Lawrence Jerue told The Associated Press that the Marquette Democrat was arrested Monday on southbound U.S. 127 near Maple Rapids. Jerue would not say what charge Kivela faced, but the Detroit Free Press reported he was arrested for suspected drunken driving.

Jerue said Kivela was released Tuesday on bond.

Kivela pleaded guilty in December 2015 to drunken driving after his arrest the previous month in Clinton County.

The Michigan Democratic Party released the following statement on Tuesday:

“We are deeply saddened to learn of John Kivela’s death. Having served with John in the legislature, I know how much he cared about his family, his friends, and the people he served in Marquette. Our hearts, prayers, and deepest condolences go out to his wife, Sandy, and his children, Shelby and Andrew.”

Gov. Rick Snyder also released a statement Tuesday following the news of Kivela’s death:

“The news of Rep. John Kivela’s passing is devastating to all who knew and worked with him. Lt. Gov. Calley and I spent a lot of time working with John in his district — he was a great person and this is very sad news. John was a tremendous partner in the Legislature who always put the needs of his constituents in Marquette and the Upper Peninsula first. It is with great sadness that I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, loved ones and colleagues in the Legislature as we mourn his untimely passing.”