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Keli McGregor, late Rockies president, died of rare virus that attacked his heart, family says

When Colorado Rockies president Keli McGregor was found dead on April 20 in a Salt Lake City hotel room despite being just 48 and in apparently terrific health, speculation about his cause of death ran rampant -- and months of delays in McGregor's toxicology reports only increased these rumblings. Now, however, the McGregor family has revealed that he died of a natural, albeit highly unusual, cause: a rare, heart-attacking virus.

Look below to read the family's statement, issued through the Rockies:

Keli McGregor had the heart of a lion. He did not die of a heart attack or of any other preventable heart condition. Instead, his healthy heart was attacked by a rare virus which unfortunately infected the heart muscle, causing the lymphocytic myocarditis that led to Keli's death. In an unusual manifestation of a viral illness, this organism infiltrated his heart muscle and disrupted the electrical pathways that signal the heart to beat properly. The heart muscle may have recovered from the viral attack had these electrical pathways not been destroyed, but the muscle may have been permanently weakened and destined for eventual heart failure. This infectious process most likely occurred during the last week of Keli's life, causing nothing more than flu-like symptoms. Just as a healthy brain can be infected with viral meningitis, a healthy heart can be infected with viral myocarditis. Fortunately, the vast majority of viral illnesses do not damage the heart or the brain.

Keli McGregor was a champion of the physical and spiritual health of the heart. He acted as a strong advocate for the early detection and prevention of cardiovascular disease, both with the Rockies and throughout Denver and Colorado. Keli lived an active life and had his cardiovascular status evaluated regularly. Unfortunately, even a heart as strong as Keli's can, in rare cases, fall victim to these microscopic viral invaders.

Like you, we miss Keli every minute of every day. We're so very grateful for the love and support shown to our family and we wanted to share this information with all of those who, like us, have searched for answers.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts