Todd Tongen, a longtime anchor and reporter at Florida’s WPLG, has been found dead in his home in Southwest Ranches in the Miami metropolitan area. He was 56.
The 30-year local news veteran was discovered after he missed his Sunday broadcast. According to WPLG, Tongen’s wife was out of town and unable to reach him so she asked a friend to check on him and police were called in to investigate.
The cause of death remained unclear as of Tuesday morning.
“It is heartbreaking. We are so sad that we have to report that we have lost a beloved member of our Local 10 family and of your family too, Local 10 news anchor Todd Tongen,” the channel’s senior political reporter Michael Putney said during a Monday broadcast. “He died unexpectedly, tragically. Todd has been our friend and our colleague for decades here. Working with us delivering the news for nearly 30 years.”
“Our hearts are broken,” the network said in a Twitter statement. Throughout Monday, the channel tweeted out similar feelings of condolences from Tongen’s friends, fans and colleagues.
“We are shattered and heartbroken. Todd was so much more than a colleague. He was our friend,” anchor Louis Aguirre said in a statement. “He was our brother & integral member of the @WPLGLocal10 news family. This has left a huge hole in our hearts. Please send love & prayers to his family.”
After originally following a career in radio, Tongen got his start in local news in Arkansas before being picked up by WPLG in 1989. Tongen’s knack for quirky features caught the eye of network brass, and a clip real produced by the station showed Tongen frequently joking around with the news and viewers.
His most memorable and long-running routine was a recurring segment known as “10 Taxi,” in which Tongen would chat with celebrities while driving them around in 1967 Marathon Checker cab.
In 1989, Tongen received the Associated Press Award for best feature report. He also won an Emmy Award for feature reporting and has been nominated six times.
Tongen is survived by his wife and two sons.