CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The family of an 18-year-old man, who was found dead on Sullvan’s Island, is launching their own investigation into the incident.
Officials with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources say the body of Elijah Dominic Weatherspoon of North Charleston was recovered on a sandbar near Sullivan’s Island on Sunday morning. A search had been in effect since Thursday night after emergency crews responded to a report of a missing boater Thursday night near the Ravenel Bridge.
On Tuesday night, lawyers representing Weatherspoon’s family released a statement saying that the family has launched its own investigation to determine “what really happened to Elijah.”
SCDNR Capt. Robert McCullough said on Monday the information they have indicates that a young man went off the back of the boat into the water.
“One of the other boys in the boat went in after him, made contact but could not get him out,” McCullough said. He said nine people were on the boat and they have interviewed each person about what happened.
The Pizarro Law Firm, who is representing Weatherspoon’s family, said there have been “numerous conflicting accounts” that have been given about the circumstances surrounding Weatherspoon’s death.
“Elijah is believed to have been the only person of color on the watercraft at the time of the incident, and numerous conflicting accounts have been given about the circumstances surrounding Elijah’s death,” the law firm said.
The Charleston County Coroner’s Office identified Weatherspoon on Monday and said that the cause of death is pending awaiting an autopsy.
McCullough said investigators have been talking with Weatherspoon’s family every day and providing them with updates.
Representatives of the Pizarro Law Firm said that investigators have not been giving enough information on the case.
“To say that investigating authorities have been tight-lipped with information is an understatement,” lawyers for the family said.
A statement provided by the law firm on behalf of the family is below:
The family of the Charleston County teen who died in a boating incident on June 25, 2020, has retained Attorneys Margie A. Pizarro and Myesha L. Brown as local counsel in consultation with Javaron D. Buckley, Sr., Esq., to provide representation. Elijah Dominic “Nicky” Weatherspoon went out on the water with friends on June 25, 2020, near the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge. His body was discovered near a sandbar on Sullivan’s Island on June 28, 2020.
Elijah was a wonderful friend, brother, and son. He was an accomplished athlete, and he loved soccer and football. He was a doting uncle to his six-month old niece, and his younger cousins looked up to him. He was truly loved by his family, friends, and community. Elijah’s untimely passing leaves a void in this family that will never be filled, and his family is struggling to make sense of the incident that took his life. They are awaiting answers to learn the circumstances surrounding Elijah’s tragic death and want to know specifically what happened on that boat on June 25, 2020.
The family joins the community in its calls for transparency and thoroughness from all agencies involved in the investigation of this incident. On behalf of the family, the attorneys will be formally requesting the complete investigative file and pertinent information from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department, the Sullivan’s Island Police Department, and any and all agencies who are investigating this tragic incident.
As Elijah’s family plans the celebration of his life, they ask that you continue to respect their privacy as they undertake a task that no family should ever have to face, burying an eighteen-year old young man whose life was just beginning. The family wishes to thank everyone for the many thoughts, prayers, and expressions of kindness that have been extended to them during this difficult time. They ask for continued prayer in the days ahead.
Weatherspoon graduated from Charleston Acceleration Academy in June, Pizarro said.