Knight died of natural causes

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A 30-year-old Steamboat Springs man found dead in a tent near State Bridge Lodge last month died of natural heart failure.

Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis made the ruling after receiving the results of toxicology tests for Max Knight, a former longtime employee of Cantina and cook at Mambo Italiano.

Bettis ruled the cause as heart failure and the manner of death as natural. She said a more extensive toxicology test than usual was done to determine what caused Knight's sudden death.

"We wanted to cover every aspect that we could," Bettis said.

Toxicology reports indicated Knight's blood-alcohol content was 0.281, more than three times the legal driving limit, but no traces of illegal drugs were found in his body.

Bettis said a rare genetic heart condition, abnormal coronary circulation, caused his death.

Eagle County Sheriff's Office reports show that Knight, who died early in the morning of May 17 in his tent near State Bridge Lodge, had bitten down on his tongue and had a contusion on his head indicating a seizure.

In the day after Knight's death, law enforcement officials suspected it may have been a homicide.

Christopher Mack, a 26-year-old Steamboat Springs man and co-worker of Knight's, called the Vail Dispatch Center the morning of Knight's death to report he had killed his friend. Mack was detained at the Eagle County Jail for three days on suspicion of second-degree murder.

Mack was released after officials found no evidence of homicide in the autopsy.

Knight and Mack, who also worked for Mambo Italiano, had driven to State Bridge together May 16 for a concert. The two had been drinking alcohol Sunday and took chocolate-covered psilocybin mushrooms about 5 p.m. that night, according to the Eagle County Sheriff's Office report.

Early Monday morning, the two started fighting, Mack told the sheriff's office. When Mack woke up the next morning, he found Knight not breathing in his tent and thought he killed him, the sheriff's report stated.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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