Autopsy: Knight died of seizure

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Max Knight, the man found dead in a tent near State Bridge on Monday morning, died from a seizure caused by either a rare heart condition or toxins in his body, an autopsy report states.

A co-worker initially jailed on suspicion of killing him has been allowed to leave jail but has chosen to stay.

Christopher Mack, 26, is free to leave the Eagle County Jail on a personal-recognizance bond, Eagle County Sheriff spokeswoman Kim Andree said, but as of Thursday afternoon, Mack had chosen not to sign the bond, which requires no money, and to remain in jail, jail administrator Bill Kaufman said.

A report from the Eagle County Sheriff's Office stated Knight, who died early Sunday morning, had bitten his tongue and had a contusion on his head indicating a seizure, Andree said.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Ben Galloway of the Jefferson County Coroner's Office stated in a preliminary report that Knight suffered from abnormal coronary circulation, a rare genetic heart condition.

Drugs and alcohol also are suspected to be involved in the death, but toxicology reports are pending, according to the sheriff's office. The results of those reports will help investigators determine Knight's cause and manner of death.

On Wednesday, officials said they had no intention of filing homicide charges against Mack, who turned himself in Monday and was detained on suspicion of second-degree murder.

On Thursday, Mack's bond was reduced from $50,000 to personal recognizance, which requires only a written promise to return to court when required.

Although Mack has been cleared of homicide charges, he could be charged with a felony drug charge for allegedly consuming chocolate-covered psilocybin mushrooms, Andree said.

The sheriff's office's reports indicate Mack had called the Vail Dispatch Center on Monday morning to report that he thought he had killed his friend.

According to the sheriff's report, Mack and Knight, who both worked for Mambo Italiano in Steamboat, had driven to State Bridge together early Sunday morning for a concert. The two had been drinking alcohol Sunday and took chocolate-covered psilocybin mushrooms at about 5 p.m. that night, Andree said.

Early Monday morning, the two started fighting, Mack reportedly told the sheriff's office. Mack described the fight as a street brawl with a few punches thrown.

Nearby campers varied on when they said they heard fighting, one group said shortly after midnight and another said they heard fighting at about 3:30 a.m.

When Mack woke up the next morning, he found Knight not breathing in his tent and thought he had killed him, the sheriff's report states.

An autopsy done Tuesday did not find any evidence of homicide, Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said.

The sheriff's report did not indicate why the two where fighting, but evidence of a struggle was found at the campsite, Andree said. A tent was found ripped from its stakes and thrown down an embankment and a chair was turned over.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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