Family Believes KY Judge Was Meningitis Outbreak's First Victim
by Chris Conte
TOMPKINSVILLE, K.Y. - The family of a longtime circuit court judge who served the people of Tompkinsville, Kentucky for over three decades believes he was the meningitis outbreak's first victim.
Judge Eddie Lovelace, 78, died of a stroke on September 17, at the time his friends and family didn't think there was anything suspicious about it. But now they've learned Judge Lovelace was receiving epidural injections for back pain at a St. Thomas Hospital outpatient clinic, the very same place and procedure at the epicenter of the outbreak.
Officials still haven't confirmed if the judge had fungal meningitis.
"They may find someone to fill the position but it's gonna be hard to fill that man's shoes," said Ricky Richardson who worked with Judge Lovelace for the past decade.
"He was on the top of his game and I don't think I'd ever heard him asked a question that he couldn't quote from memory, what the law says," Ricky added.
Before he died, Judge Lovelace's family says he had slurred speech, trouble walking and numbness: all things consistent with symptoms of fungal meningitis.
"That smile of his, it kinda rubbed off on you," Ricky recalls.
Judge Lovelace's chambers now sit empty as his family's lawyer tries to determine if fungal meningitis was indeed what took his life.