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Coroner says that man thought to have drowned in Saluda River may have died of another cause

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher has released the preliminary autopsy findings on William John Leeman, 43, of Gaston, who was believed to have drowned in the Saluda River near the Riverbanks Zoo on June 25, 2017.

According to Coroner Fisher, the preliminary autopsy findings were unable to confirm that Leeman’s death was the result of drowning. She said that additional toxicology testing will be conducted to see if the actual cause of his death can be pinpointed.

Leeman was actually the second person to lose his life in the Saluda over the weekend. On Friday evening, Deslin Lamar Mitchell, 37, of North Brown Street, West Columbia, went missing in the swift moving waters of the Saluda. Rescuers initially searched the river from both sides, but the search was called off when dark fell.

Mitchell’s body was recovered from the river just after 2:00 p.m.on Saturday afternoon. It remains un-clear how or why Mitchell was in the river.

An autopsy by the Richland County Coroner’s Office indicated the cause of his death was due to drowning.

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