VALPARAISO | A longtime local journalist died Saturday after finishing a mud-drenched three-mile race rife with obstacles, including a climbing wall, slide and mud pit.
Rick Richards, 59, was pronounced dead at Porter Regional Hospital following the Northwest Indiana Mudathlon.
The race took place at Gaeber Family Farms, 235 S. County Road 200 West in unincorporated Porter Township.
Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris said Richards was taking part in the race, and, after finishing in about two hours, went to the medics tent not feeling well. Richards asked to have his blood glucose levels taken and, at some point, went into fibrillation.
Harris said no autopsy will be performed because Richards had a "significant amount of heart history."
Richards had some health issues a couple of years ago and had started working out, said his wife, Mary Ann Richards.
Her husband was racing as part of a team with Platinum Gymnastics, where their daughter Meredith took lessons.
He also is survived by another daughter, Erika.
Richards was a print journalist who recently transitioned to television.
Journalism was in his veins, his wife said.
Richards graduated from Ball State University with a journalism degree and wrote for his father's small weekly paper, the National Road Traveler, in Cambridge City, Ind.
From October 1979 through April 1986, he wrote for the Michigan City News-Dispatch before leaving to join the Post-Tribune for 16 years. He returned to the News-Dispatch as city editor for six years, then served as managing editor of the Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly.
In March, he began working as an assignment editor for Lakeshore Public Television, his wife said.
He loved being a journalist.
"He would go in early, leave late," she said. "And, God forbid, if there was a big breaking news story, because he was really good at coming up with different angles."
He enjoyed mentoring journalism interns, teaching them how to interview sources and craft a story, she said.
He earned more than three dozen writing awards, including the Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headline Club for commentary in 1997.
He also was community-minded, volunteering at a men's interfaith homeless shelter, at the Angela House Retreat and Prayer Center in Michigan City, with band boosters and by serving on the pastoral council for St. Mary, the Immaculate Conception church in Michigan City.
Dave Hawk, former managing editor of the Michigan City News-Dispatch, said Richards was a "solid newspaper guy" who became known for his provocative and thoughtful columns.
He wanted to be the best.
"He was an intense sort of personality and certainly wanted to have the best stories, the best reporting go into everything," Hawk said. "If you understood that, he would be a great friend and great colleague."
Richards was a great storyteller.
"He was a rip-roaring newsman," Hawk said.