Todd Tongen’s Death Ruled a Suicide as He Was ‘Tormented’ by the Fear of Dementia

A local 10 News reporter's cause of death has been revealed. Family, friends, and colleagues were devastated to learn what happened.

Todd Tongen's death has been ruled a suicide two days after he was found dead in his home while his family was away. Todd was just 56 when he passed. 

For 30 years, he worked at WPLG Local 10 News as a journalist, the outlet reported. He was a beloved member of the team and excelled in what he did, winning an Emmy for his contribution to the industry. 

Todd was working in the capacity of a weekend morning anchor alongside Neki Mohan when he died. Like many, the journalist was shocked and saddened by her colleague's death. 

In a tribute, she called Todd a "unique and treasured friend." She further described him as "the foundation of this newsroom" who could "never be replaced." 

She continued: 

"My memories of our 10 years together will forever light up my life. I want to support his family in this awful time. He loved them so much. Rest in peace, my friend."

Todd had a wife and two sons, as well as a brother, Dr. Scott Tongen, who spoke out about his death to Local 10 News. "I don't really think he was thinking about ending his life as far as I know."

He explained that his brother made plans with their other siblings to go to Las Vegas and a cabin in Canada. Tickers were already purchased for the latter. 

Scott admitted that there was definitely something bothering Todd. He thinks it might have been the belief that he had Lewy body dementia, which took the life of the boys' mother back in 2017. 

Tormented by the possibility, regardless of actual facts showing whether or not he had it, Todd held onto that belief. According to Scott, "that may have been enough."

 

Scott further revealed that Todd "left some garbled messages that [the family] hasn't seen yet, but there was a simple note that said he was lost and to forgive him." 

WPLG President and CEO Bert Medina released a statement in light of the station's tremendous loss: 

“We are shocked and saddened by the death of Todd Tongen, but we are choosing to remember how he lived. Todd was an incredibly talented journalist."

Medina wrote of Todd's 30 years "telling the stories of the people in our community and giving so much of himself to this community." She added that they "miss Todd terribly" and commended the staff for how they've handled the situation with "grace, strength, and professionalism."

The day he died, Todd's wife Karen and his younger son were on vacation in Italy while his eldest was at Florida State University. He is survived by his wife and boys Tyler and Ryker and will always be remembered in the hearts of those who knew him and were touched by his stories and his personality. 

Todd was known as the "prankster," fellow journalist Jeff Weinsier revealed. He was willing to let his "inner child" show by dressing up in funny suits, such as a turkey for a Thanksgiving food drive. 

At the same time, he was great at what he did. He earned two Associated Press Awards, one in 1988 and the other in 1989. His report for 1992's Hurricane Andrew was also notable. 

Yet his ability to make people smile was best appreciated in his "10 Taxi" segment. He would host celebrities in a 1967 Checker Cab. There, he interviewed the likes of Dwayne Johnson and Vanna White. 

Todd also had high aspirations and left a small legacy in the film industry. He got parts in films like "Top Cop," "Rosalie Goes Shopping," and "Stay Tuned for Murder." Our condolences go out to all who knew him. 

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