Wednesday, December 7

Autopsy shows Cora Walker was given Narcan as precaution | Politics

ST. LOUIS — The autopsy report on Cora Faith Walker shows the former state legislator’s system contained naloxone, also known as Narcan, a drug given when an opioid overdose is suspected.

Administering naloxone is a common step when emergency medical personnel are treating a patient who is unconscious or incapable of responding to questions, said Dr. Michael Graham, St. Louis medical examiner.

Last week, Graham said Walker had died of heart disease, specifically nonischemic cardiomyopathy.

Dr. Eldin Duderija, general cardiologist at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, told the Post-Dispatch last week that the condition could be inherited or caused by factors such as major life stress, high blood pressure, illicit drug use or alcohol consumption.

Walker, a high-ranking St. Louis County official, died March 11 after spending the night at Loews Hotel at Ballpark Village in downtown St. Louis. She was 37.

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The hotel was the site of an after-party for some people who had attended a 50th birthday party on March 10 for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones.

Public safety officials said that after spending the night with another person at the hotel, Walker left the room shortly before 9 a.m. and collapsed in the hotel hallway. City EMS workers responded at 8:55 a.m. and then took her to SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 9:58 a.m.

Graham said security video from the hotel showed that Walker appeared to be in control physically when she left the room, then fell against a wall and slid to the floor. Death likely was immediate, he said.

The full autopsy/toxicology report released Wednesday also indicated Walker’s system contained several prescription drugs, which Graham has said were present in normal, nonlife-threatening amounts.

Those other drugs include sertraline, the generic name for the anti-depressant Zoloft; acetaminophen, a mild painkiller such as Tylenol; and amphetamine, which is often prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

Walker was chief policy officer in St. Louis County, a former Democratic state representative, and a health care and reproductive rights advocate.

She won Missouri’s 74th District seat in the House of Representatives for the first time in November 2016, then was re-elected in 2019. She resigned in 2019 to take the county job.

During an online news conference last month, St. Louis Public Safety Director Dan Isom denied that Walker’s death was being investigated by federal authorities, even though he said the case had been assigned to a city detective who is a member of a Drug Enforcement Agency task force.

Last month, sources told the Post-Dispatch that Walker’s personal effects had been released to a representative of the DEA, and that personnel from the U.S. Attorney’s office had interviewed toxicology department workers at St. Louis University Hospital about the tests performed on Walker. The newspaper reported in March that the St. Louis Fire Department submitted its EMS incident report, upon request, to a DEA representative.

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