‘Outpouring of love’ follows Kona Schwenke’s death
ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2012
Kona Schwenke, right, was covered with lei during Notre Dame’s final regular-season game against Wake Forest on Nov. 17, 2012. Also adorned with lei were Punahou graduates Robby Toma, left, and Manti Te’o, middle.
Former Kahuku and Notre Dame defensive lineman Kona Schwenke arrived home in Laie on Friday after a tryout last week with the Atlanta Falcons. On Sunday morning, one of his sisters found the 25-year-old dead in his bed.
“We don’t know whether he suffocated,” said his father, McKay Schwenke, via cellphone Monday afternoon. “We thought he was asleep. My daughter heard snoring and (later) went to check on him and found him face down on the mattress with blood everywhere coming out of his mouth and nose. I knew he was dead already; his body was cold.”
McKay Schwenke said Monday afternoon that he had just called the coroner’s office to check on how his son died.
“They haven’t gotten results back from some testing they did today,” he said, and added that he was told Monday that it could take six to eight weeks.
Schwenke said his family is very appreciative of the many people who have offered their condolences.
“We have received an outpouring of love from all over,” he said.
Jerry Marlatt, Schwenke’s agent, had Schwenke as a guest at his home in Texas about a week ago.
“Everyone who spent time with Kona really enjoyed being with him,” Marlatt said by phone Monday. “He was a positive, uplifting individual. He had nothing but good things to say about others.”
McKay Schwenke described his son as a “home boy.”
“As a parent, I can say there were no signs that he was doing drugs,” he said. “He was always at home and always looking for opportunities to play in the NFL and opportunities in terms of other work. He had called University of Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich to see if he could get a job as a coach there. The last Kona heard from Nick was that he had already picked his coaches and that something might come up in midseason.”
Schwenke, a four-year letter-winner and defensive lineman for the Fighting Irish, played in 31 games and started nine in his career (2010-13).
He made a career-best 11 tackles in a victory over Navy on Nov. 2, 2013.
He graduated in May 2014 with a degree in anthropology from the College of Arts and Letters, according to the Notre Dame website.
Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley tweeted: “@kschwenke96 was like a big brother to me. He had a great soul and wanted nothing but to be your friend. Rest in Love brother.”
Schwenke was an All-State first-team player in 2009 after helping the Red Raiders advance to the state title game.
At Notre Dame, he was a member of the 2012 team that played in the Bowl Championship Series national championship game, losing to Alabama.
Schwenke went undrafted after his Notre Dame career and signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014. He also was on the practice squads of the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders in 2014.
In 2015, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks, but suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in a preseason game against the Chiefs. He was placed on the team’s injured reserve list before being waived Aug. 6, 2016.
Aside from his father, Schwenke leaves his mom, Angie; sisters Telaviv, Seiko and Hookela; and brothers Syrian and Vave.