Coroner releases cause of death of 18-year-old man found on Sullivan’s Island

VIDEO: Coroner releases cause of death of 18-year-old man found on Sullivan’s Island

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Authorities have released the cause of death of an 18-year-old man who was found on Sullivan’s Island last month.

Officials with the Charleston County Coroner’s Office said based on the initial autopsy findings the cause of Elijah Dominic Weatherspoon’s death is asphyxiation due to drowning.

The findings were reported Monday afternoon after the coroner’s office completed Weatherspoon’s autopsy.

“Weatherspoon was reported missing from a boat in the Cooper River on the night of June 25, 2020,” the coroner’s office said.”His body was subsequently recovered on Sullivan’s Island on the morning of June 28, 2020.”

According to the coroner’s office, the investigation by SCDNR, SLED and the Charleston County Coroner’s Office is continuing.

Last week, officials with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said that they were investigating Weatherspoon’s death. Rep. Marvin Pendarvis said the Charleston County Legislative Delegation had asked SLED to investigate and use its resources to assist SCDNR and Mt. Pleasant police in the investigation.

Weatherspoon was recovered on a sandbar near Sullivan’s Island, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. He was found following a search of a boater who was reported missing near the Ravenel Bridge.

Officials with SCDNR, who have been leading the investigation, said their information indicated that a young man went off the back of the boat into the water.

According to officials, one of the other boys in the boat then went after him, made contact but could not get him out. Weatherspoon’s family said they were launching their own investigation into the incident as well.

Lawyers representing Weatherspoon’s family released the following statement:

“The family of Elijah Weatherspoon and their legal counsel met with Coroner Rae Wooten last week to discuss the preliminary findings in this death investigation.  They thank the Charleston County Coroner’s Office for keeping them informed during their investigation, and they look forward to receiving the full autopsy report which will be reviewed by their independent expert.  The family and legal counsel had a productive meeting today with an investigator from SCDNR and one of the SLED agents handling this matter.  As the investigation continues, the family appeals to members of the public and, particularly, to those individuals who were on the boat with Elijah to come forward and fully cooperate with all agencies to determine what really happened on June 25, 2020.”

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