GC Coroner’s Office: Warden co-principal ‘most probably’ had cardiac event while driving

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MOSES LAKE — The Grant County Coroner’s Office says a co-principal in the Warden School District (WSD) who died in a collision north of Moses Lake on Friday “most probably” had a cardiac event while driving.

Christopher McKnight, 50, of Ephrata, was driving a 2013 Kia Optima south on state Route 17 Friday afternoon when, according to the Washington State Patrol, he attempted to pass a vehicle in front of him. The Optima reportedly clipped another vehicle and went on to strike a 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser driven by Peter Martinez, 38, of Ephrata, head-on. Martinez was airlifted to Confluence Health-Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee for treatment.

In a collision report released later in the day on Friday the patrol listed the official cause of the collision as McKnight’s unsafe passing and driving over the centerline. Coroner’s Office official Jerry Jasman told the Columbia Basin Herald on Tuesday that McKnight had an underlying cardiovascular condition at the time of his death.

Jasman said the autopsy performed on McKnight concluded he “most probably” had a cardiac event while driving. Jasman could not conclude, however, whether or not the cardiac event caused the collision.

“On our end of it we just got what we found out at the autopsy,” Jasman explained. “We are just saying that he definitely, most probably had a cardiac event.”

“What they do on their (law enforcement) side is obviously different,” he continued. “We do our autopsy and then we determine what could have possibly happened with the evidence that we have, of course, in front of us.”

In a statement on its Facebook page the WSD said McKnight served the district as an elementary and middle school principal for 10 years.

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