NEW ORLEANS-- A Louisiana coroner’s office says a preliminary autopsy found that popular radio and TV host David "Kidd" Kraddick had an enlarged heart and blocked arteries, and probably developed an irregular heartbeat.
Dr. Granville Morse, a deputy coroner in the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office, says Kraddick collapsed while being driven to an emergency room after becoming ill during his charity’s golf tournament on Saturday in a New Orleans suburb.
He says doctors at a nearby Ochsner Medical Center campus attempted to revive Kraddick.
Morse says the autopsy is not final because toxicology tests are not back. But he says Kraddick’s heart was enlarged by cardiac disease, and three coronary arteries were 40 to 80 percent blocked.
Morse says those can lead to an irregular heartbeat and collapse.
The popular Dallas-based radio host was in Gretna, Louisiana Saturday to host his Kidd's Kids charity golf tournament. The organization raised thousands of dollars for children with chronic and terminal illnesses.
Kraddick, 53, was scheduled to take the first swing at the golf tournament, organizers said. He went to the driving range to practice, but became ill after taking a few swings.
Heather Rich and her son, Brandon Dodd, met with Kraddick earlier that day. They were among the families who benefited from his foundation.
“The only thing I keep thinking is he died doing what he loved and being with families,” said a tearful Rich.
“He made such a big difference in my life,” said Dodd, a Spina Bifida patient who was among the children selected to be part of Kidd’s Kids annual trip to Disney World.
This was the first time Kraddick had taken part in the golf tournament.
“He got to be reunited with his Kidd’s Kids families. And I know that that made him proud,” said tournament organizer Mindi Hartzog, through tears. “He was in good spirits. He hugged everybody.”
But Kraddick’s health soon took a turn for the worse.
Kraddick wasn't the only person to be hospitalized during the tournament. Hartzog fell ill shortly after. She says her hospital bed was down the hall from Kraddick's.
“I think from dehydration. I had a little bit of anxiety going on. I almost passed out,” said Hartzog, who was released and has fully recovered.
Now, people across the nation are remembering a man who touched thousands of lives through his morning radio show and his charity work for children.
“It's like losing a friend. It's somebody that you've listened to, and you've felt like you were part of their life for so long, because he's been doing it forever,” said Rich. “It's just shocking that it's going to be over.”
Kraddick's colleagues in Dallas said they were heartbroken over the loss of their friend.
"All of us with YEA Networks and the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning crew are heartbroken over the loss of our dear friend and leader. Kidd devoted his life to making people smile every morning, and for 21 years, his foundation has been dedicated to bringing joy to thousands of chronically and terminally ill children," a statement from his colleagues said.
But while Kraddick will no longer greet listeners in the morning, those like Rich say the difference he made in children's lives will forever live on.
Tournament organizers say they plan to hold the event in Kraddick's name next year.