Exclusive: Well-known subway performer loses life to Legionnaires’ Disease, family says

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan — A new outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease, a particularly aggressive form of pneumonia, turned fatal for one person who contracted it, according to his family.

They also say that the victim, Enriquillo "Keyo" Meyreles, was a fixture on the Upper West Side and in Upper Manhattan for his musical performances on subway platforms, and for his songwriting and other musical performances.

"If he'd gotten regular pneumonia, he would've made it through," said one of his sisters, who asked that her name not be disclosed in order to protect her family's privacy.

The family is spending the next few days planning his cremation and interment, as well as cleaning out his apartment, where members of the family had lived at various times during the last 40 years. During a short break from their planning, two of Meyreles's five siblings reminisced about him, and expressed regret that the disease took such a treasured life.

"He was somebody who had so much to give, but didn't have anything," one of his sisters told PIX11 News.

"It's a big loss for friends and family all over the United States," his other sister said.

Indeed, a look at Meyreles's Facebook page shows a large outpouring of grief from people around the world. As a musician, the 64-year-old man traveled widely, according to his family, and made friends from around the world from the places from which he'd perform on the platforms of the 1 train at 103rd and 110th Streets.

"Everyone's going to pass, but he just brought happiness in the meantime with his music," said Ben Djoleto, a maintenance worker at the 103rd Street station.

Djoleto was among a long list of people who remembered Meyreles fondly both on the subway and at his home here.

"He just made me feel good," said his neighbor Veronica Brown, a well-known figure in the community. "Whenever he saw me, he'd say, 'There's the mayor.'"

It's clearly a significant loss to both the community and his family, but Meyreles's sisters said that they want their brother's case to help others take better care of themselves.

"So that other people [will be] more careful and be aware if they get those symptoms, to head to an emergency room right away," his sister said.

The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which monitors cases of Legionnaire's Disease, and which issued a warning last week about a new outbreak, told PIX11 News in a statement on Tuesday, "We don't ever confirm individual deaths, and as of now, we are not reporting any deaths related to this cluster."

Meyreles's family is planning a memorial gathering for him that will take place at the 103rd Street station on the Number 1 subway train line.