Heart disease claims former manager of McDonald’s, 30

Published 12:20 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

A 30-year-old Andalusia man died Sunday due to heart attack that his family believes could’ve been prevented.

BJ Riley, 30, was a man best known for his love of video games and his willingness to help others.

“BJ had congestive heart failure and his problems started happening around 2015,” Tiffany Riley, his sister, said.

“After he got several tests run on him he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, but he continued to work at McDonald’s until it got bad.”

BJ stopped working at McDonald’s in November of 2017 due to his worsening condition.

Since he was unable to work, B.J. didn’t have insurance coverage and was told he wasn’t eligible for Medicaid until 2020.

“He filed for disability in December and finally started getting his checks,” Riley said.

“Some clinics would stop seeing him because he made too much money from disability, so he had to pay out of pocket for some medicine. Just one of his medicines was $400.”

In the days leading up to BJ’s death, he seemed to get worse, she said.

“He was back at our mother’s house and he didn’t have his LifeVest because he didn’t have insurance to pay for it. But he did just pick up his medicine and got his first check for disability,” Riley said.

A LifeVest is a personal defibrillator worn by patients with a risk of sudden cardiac arrest. The vest monitors the wearer’s heart continuously and if there is a risk of arrhythmia, the vest will deliver shock treatment that restores the heart to normal rhythm.

Riley said that BJ passed away early Sunday morning.

“When my mother woke up on Sunday around 10:30 a.m., she went to the bathroom and noticed the door was locked,” she said.

“When she popped the lock that’s when she found BJ, lying on the floor.”

When the paramedics arrived, they told the family that he probably passed away at 1 a.m., due to a heart attack.

“It just frustrates me because if he would have had his insurance approved before he left Birmingham he would’ve survived.”

This isn’t the only loss the Riley family has experienced.

The same disease claimed Jonathan Carnley, Riley’s brother, at age 29.

“I miss him so much. We had our times where we fought but I miss him,” Riley said.

“His two children, Carlie and Dakoata, are incredibly hurt.”

Riley says she remembers BJ telling his children that he would be better soon.

“When he was sick he tried not to have them over as much,” she said.

“He’d say, ‘Just wait until I get better,’ to them.”

Riley said that the only thing that will heal the family is time.

“It’ll take time. I will always feel like if he had the insurance he needed he would have survived,” she said.

“He was a dad and a brother and always well loved.”

Those wishing to help defray funeral expenses make contribute to an account in Loretta Gratham’s name at Woodforest National Bank.

The funeral will be today, Thurs., June 21, at 1 p.m. at the Keahey Funeral Home.