CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division released new information and statements on the investigation into the death of Elijah Weatherspoon, an 18-year-old who drowned in the Charleston Harbor this past summer.
The investigation into Weatherspoon’s death spanned four months and involved interviewing nearly 40 witnesses. According to investigators, many of those witnesses lived outside of South Carolina to ensure the facts and evidence of the case were obtained.
Weatherspoon was reported missing from a boat on June 25. Three days later, emergency crews found his body on a sandbar near Sullivan’s Island.
“While there were many rumors about what happened, our role is to uncover and report the facts of the case,” SLED chief Mark Keel said on Friday.
Before SLED completed its investigation, Weatherspoon’s family had said they had heard stories from people about what happened the day he went missing, and said they did not have the full picture of what led to his death.
SLED agents said their investigation was reviewed with the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office who determined that the incident was a boating accident; on Thursday, SLED said they received a letter from Solicitor Scarlett Wilson who said that after reviewing the department’s report on the case she determined his death was not a homicide.
“The accidental death of anyone is a tragedy, especially when it is a young person,” Keel said. “I hope knowing the facts of what happened can help in the healing process for all those who knew and loved this young man. Our hearts go out to the Weatherspoon family for their loss.”
Officials with the state’s department of natural resources said a complete and thorough review of the available evidence in the case was conducted and the results were shared with Weatherspoon’s family.
“These situations are always very difficult, and one of our most important tasks in a Search & Rescue operation or boating fatality investigation is to bring closure to a grieving family,” said Col. Chisolm Frampton, SCDNR’s Deputy Director for Law Enforcement.