Fontana residents mourn death of Donald McKnight, who walked up and down Sierra Avenue | News

Donald McKnight, who was known by many in Fontana as the mysterious — but very polite and nice — man who would regularly walk along Sierra Avenue while carrying several bags on his shoulders, died recently. He was believed to be 69 years old.

For many years, McKnight could be seen early in the morning walking south on Sierra from Riverside Avenue all the way to downtown Fontana, and then he would make the trek all the way back up to his encampment/home by dusk.

On March 28, McKnight’s body was found by a resident who was looking for recyclable materials in an empty field in the 16800 block of Duncan Canyon Road, said Fontana Police Department Public Information Officer Jason Delair. It appeared that McKnight had been deceased for a period of time, Delair said.

“The coroner responded and took possession of the body. There were no signs of trauma and nothing suspicious was found,” Delair said, adding that the coroner said the death appeared to be due to natural causes.

“We knew he was a kind hearted and soft spoken man,” Delair said. “He never took food or money from anyone, nor did he ever bother anybody. He just kept to himself and enjoyed walking up and down Sierra Avenue. I know there were a couple of officers who would routinely check him and made sure he had water on hot days. He is in a much better place now.”

There were numerous rumors and speculations about McKnight.

Some people assumed he was homeless, while others thought he was rich, and some believed he was once a famous person who was tired of the fame.

However, what was confirmed was that he was glad to help out by doing tasks in the kitchen at the Oldtimers Foundation building in central Fontana from 2007 to 2015.

“He was a nice and quiet man, and very smart,” said Socorro Flores, Guadalupe Valdivia, and Jacqueline Gayoso.  “He was a hard worker.”

Mostly McKnight kept to himself, although several people would try to help him, either with a meal or with money, but he would always decline and continue on his trek.

Not all of the bags he carried were his belongings; he would also carry grocery bags full of sand, and it is believed this was due to a close family member’s death that he felt responsibility for and felt that living the life he did was a way for him to express penitence.

A candlelight vigil was held in McKnight’s memory on April 3 outside the Stater Bros. store at 8228 Sierra Avenue, where he was often spotted.

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