Key West City Commissioner Clayton Lopez thanks supporters as he recovers from a cardiac ‘event’ on Oct. 12. Keys Weekly file photo

Clayton Lopez wasn’t playing hooky when he missed the Oct. 12 city commission meeting. 

The longtime District 6 representative instead was in an ambulance bound for Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami, where he was treated for a cardiac “event.”

Lopez awoke on Oct. 12 with chest pain, high blood pressure and a racing heart, he wrote in an Oct. 18 email thanking his well-wishers.

When he called City Manager Al Childress to excuse himself from that day’s meeting, Childress offered to send the city’s ambulance to take Lopez to Lower Keys Medical Center. Lopez instead went to his cardiologist’s office, then to Lower Keys Medical Center.

From there, doctors decided to fly him up to Mt. Sinai Medical Center for specialized cardiac care. 

But a life flight aboard one of the county’s Trauma Star helicopters wasn’t possible. 

The hours-long cell service outage that stymied text messages and cell phone calls for much of the Florida Keys on Oct. 12 had bigger implications for Lopez — and anyone else who may have needed an emergency medical helicopter flight.

“Air transport doesn’t fly when cellular communication is out, so I was transported by ambulance to Mt. Sinai,” wrote Lopez, who returned home to Key West on Oct. 14. “I underwent a cardiac catheterization, MRI, electrocardiogram exams and plenty of bloodwork. Today, I will see my cardiologist in his office, to learn the results of the tests that were unavailable here.”

“Thank you all, who called, texted, reached out in any way,” he wrote. “I want to especially give thanks to our top-of-the-mountain EMTs and paramedics. They are amazing. We are blessed to have the professional, caring people we have.”

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.