He was a picture of health. Professionally, 47 year old Alex Cruz was a personal trainer in St. Petersburg who also dabbled in mixed martial arts fighting in his spare time. His heart health was never a question.

His wife Shannon was shocked when Alex left to visit family and friends in Honduras and never returned. “They put him in the ambulance and his sister arrived just as the ambulance was pulling off and he died on the way to the hospital.” It was a massive heart attack. And an autopsy later showed that wasn’t Alex’s first heart attack. He had previously had one he didn’t even know about. Alex’s condition, called coronary artery disease, affects three million Americans every year. 

It has been six months since Alex died and Shannon is doing as well as you might expect. “Everyone said once I got his remains back I would have closure but it’s not really that way because he just never came home from vacation so I struggle with that.” Shannon says she likes talking about Alex because she doesn’t ever want him to be forgotten.

She also thinks sharing his story can serve as a warning to others. “I just think it’s really important, people, no matter what fitness level you’re at, no matter what age you’re at, it’s important to listen to your body.”