By Ted Scouten

WILTON MANORS (CBSMiami) – Wilton Manors Mayor Justin Flippen died of a brain aneurysm, according to the city’s Police Chief Paul O’Connell.

In a statement released Wednesday, O’Connell wrote, “The Broward County Medical Examiner’s office has confirmed Mayor Justin Flippen’s cause of death was a brain aneurysm and the manner of death was natural.”

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Flippen, only 41-years-old, died unexpectedly on Tuesday night.

Wilton Manors police were already at Andrews and NE 22nd where they found him in his car. When it happened, he was on the phone with a friend, that friend telling us the mayor said, something’s wrong. Something is happening. And he pulled off the road.

“They located Mayor Justin who was alone in his car and unresponsive. Officers began CPR and when Fort Lauderdale fire rescue arrived, care was turned over to them,” O’Connell said.

The city confirmed his death on its social media pages after a city commission meeting was abruptly adjourned due to an emergency.

Longtime friend and former Broward democratic chair Mitch Ceasar remembers Flippen for his great bear hugs and optimism.

“He was really the true spirit of a public servant and that’s something that these days is very rare to find,” said Ceasar.

“He had great compassion and heart for the people he represented,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis.

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Trantalis and Flippen go back more than a decade. Aside from his life in public service, he was a good friend.

“He always had a smile on his face, always had a nice hug. He was just a guy when you were in his company you always felt good about it,” Trantalis said.

Flippen was elected as a city commissioner in 2008 and was elected mayor in 2018, the same year it became the first city in Florida to have an all-LGBT commission.

The city said on Facebook that funeral plans will be announced soon.

Leaders across Florida said they were saddened by Flippen’s death.

“Like all of us who knew him, I am devastated by the news of Justin Flippen’s passing,” Rep. Ted Deutch tweeted. “Justin was a fine public servant, a wonderful person, and a dear friend. My thoughts are with his family as we all mourn this tragic loss. May Justin rest in peace.”

Former Tallahassee Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum tweeted, “Rest in Power, Justin. Our state has lost an inspiring leader far too soon.”

Flippen grew up in Broward County and graduated from Broward College, Florida Atlantic University and the University of Florida Law School.

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Flags around Wilton Manors are flying at half staff and a memorial is growing in front of the city hall.

Ted Scouten