Denfeld News

August 24, 2011
Duluth News Tribune

No answers on what caused young athlete’s death
By Kevin Pates

An autopsy performed Monday on former Duluth Denfeld High School athlete Matt Kero provided few answers for his family.

Kero, 18, was found dead at home in his bed Monday morning about 7 a.m. He was to have joined St. Scholastica’s cross country team as a freshman runner later in the day for the season’s first practice.

“The medical examiner told us there was no explanation, either genetically or congenitally. There weren’t any answers, which is a very rare thing,” Tom Kero, Matt’s father, said Tuesday.

Toxicology tests, for drug use, will take longer, said Tom Kero, but he was told those results may likely be negative.

Matt Kero ran high school cross country and track the last four years, and was a varsity hockey defenseman for four years. He was the top runner for Denfeld and Duluth Central the past three years, participating in three Minnesota Class AA cross country meets and the 2011 Class AA track meet.

Essentia Health sports medicine physician Steve Harrington said sudden cardiac death in athletes typically has two primary causes: a congenital coronary abnormality or abnormal heart development, both of which obstruct blood flow to the heart.

“This situation is rare and with no indicators of death; there may never be a satisfying answer,” said Harrington, who was a family practice physician for 19 years.

In Kero’s case, said Harrington, a likely cause of death would be a cardiac rhythm problem, which can only be detected when alive. The disorder, known as Long QT Syndrome, can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats, according to the Mayo Clinic web site. The rapid heartbeats may trigger a sudden fainting spell or seizure, or in some cases, may beat erratically long enough to cause sudden death.

The Long QT Syndrome incidence of death is about 1 in 10,000 in the United States, or 3,000-4,000 deaths annually among youth, said Harrington.

Kero had been training throughout the summer for college cross country, including competing in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon on June 18.

He’s survived by his parents, Tom and Mary Kero; sisters, Katherine and Jessica; paternal grandmother Mary Kero of Duluth and maternal grandmother Avenelle Klepfer of Sugarland, Texas.

There is a visitation from 5 to 8 p.m. today in Williams Lobermeier Funeral Home, 3208 West Third Street, and will continue at 10 a.m. Thursday until an 11 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial in Mitchell Auditorium on the St. Scholastica campus. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to establish a memorial in Matt’s name.

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