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Gaston man drowns in Saluda River near Riverbanks Zoo

West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) – A Gaston man drowned Sunday afternoon in the Saluda River. According to Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher, the details regarding the death are limited and still being looked into at this time.

Mrs. Fisher has identified the man as William John Leeman, 43, of Gaston. She said that he was pulled from the waters of the river by someone in a canoe and CPR was started. Lexington County EMS arrived on the scene and Leeman was transported to Lexington Medical Center where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Rescuers from both Lexington and Richland Counties responded and assisted in the recovery of Mr. Leeman from the river bank. This included multiple law enforcement agencies, both the West Columbia and City of Columbia Fire Departments, EMS, and others. West Columbia FD units were dispatched to a point on the river close to the bridge that connects the zoo and the botanical gardens that are on the Lexington County side of the river.

According to the coroner, an autopsy will be performed soon to determine the cause of death. This case remains under the investigation of the Lexington County Coroner's Office.

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