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Originally published October 23, 2011 at 9:33 PM | Page modified October 24, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Wash. state Sen. White died of cardiac problem

A coroner says Washington state Sen. Scott White died over the weekend of a cardiac problem.

The Associated Press

quotes Thoughts go out to his family. Read more
quotes I hope his last moments were calm. Read more
quotes He always was a nice guy. Hope his family is given some privacy. Read more

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ELLENSBURG, Wash. —

State Sen. Scott White died over the weekend of a cardiac problem linked to an undiagnosed enlarged heart, a coroner said Sunday.

The 41-year-old politician, a transit advocate and rising star in the Democratic Party, was found dead Friday at a Washington resort hotel where he was attending a conference.

Kittitas County Deputy Coroner Paul R. Sander said Sunday night that an autopsy and investigation showed that White died alone in his room as a result of a cardiac event due to the enlarged heart, which hadn't previously been detected.

There had been no signs of foul play but authorities investigated because White's death was unexplained, according to Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana.

The Democrat represented the state's 46th District, covering northern parts of Seattle. He joined the Senate last year and rose to serve as the Senate's majority whip, advocating for transit issues as a caucus transportation leader. He worked most recently as a project manager at the University of Washington.

White sought to shape and advance transportation issues. This year, he successfully pushed a bill to provide funding for King County Metro by allowing local officials to implement a congestion reduction charge of $20 per vehicle. He said transit was critical to help people - commuters, seniors and students in particular - get to work and school in a difficult economy.

White was in Cle Elum at the Suncadia Resort, where he was participating in a leadership conference organized by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. He was on a panel Thursday speaking about ways that the west side of the state and the east side of the state can better work together.

Randy Hodgins, vice president of external affairs for the University of Washington, said he and others went out for drinks with White after dinner on Thursday night. He recalled that White talked about how content he was with the work he was doing in Olympia. The group returned to the hotel around 10:30 p.m., and Hodgins said White was upbeat.

Hodgins noticed that White wasn't around for events Friday morning but assumed he had left for home early.

A native of Olympia, White played football at Timberline High School before going to both Western Washington University and the University of Washington. He worked on the King County Council, rising to serve as chief of staff before getting elected to the state House in 2008 before moving to the Senate two years later.

White is survived by his wife and two children.

His wife, Alison Carl White, released a statement Saturday thanking the public for the outpour of support.

"He was a tremendous husband, father and public official, and we are deeply moved by the nobility and honor with which his professional accomplishments are remembered," she said.

The family said donations can be made in White's memory to Wedgewood Elementary PTSA, EarthCorps or to the Scott White Memorial Fund, an education fund set up for his two children. The statement said a public memorial will be held this week.

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