Autopsy results released Friday show an East Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy who crashed while driving to work and died suffered from congestive heart failure.

Lt. Steven Whitstine, 42, died moments before the crash Thursday morning, the Coroner's Office said. Whitstine's vehicle had run off a road between Pride and Port Hudson, struck a tree and a bridge and overturned in a roadside canal.

East Baton Rouge Coroner Dr. Beau Clark released preliminary autopsy results Friday morning showing Whitstine actually died from natural causes — congestive heart failure, which caused his heart to suddenly stop — just before the crash occurred. Clark said Whitstine's heart failure is what caused him to crash. 

Clark said there's no evidence that Whitstine's injuries sustained during the crash also contributed to his death.

"I extend my deepest condolences to Lt. Whitstine's family, friends and law enforcement coworkers," Clark said.

The longtime K9 officer had his new dog "Six" with him in the car. Six received only minor injuries and was taken to a local vet.


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Whitstine had an enlarged heart, which caused his heart failure, according to the autopsy results. The condition means the heart becomes weakened and loses the ability to pump blood efficiently. That can result in disruptions to the heart's rhythm.

The crash occurred just north of Zachary on Port Hudson–Pride Road about 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

Whitstine had served as a K9 officer with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office for the past eight years. He leaves behind his wife — also an East Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy — and their two adult children. 

He started his career in law enforcement with the Louisiana Department of Corrections, working in the dog training program at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center. He then moved to the Baker Police Department and served for nine years as a K9 officer before later transferring to the sheriff's office at Gautreaux's request to help expand the K9 division there. 

Follow Lea Skene on Twitter, @lea_skene.