Autopsy Indicates Man Found In New River Drowned (2018-09-14 15:37:31)

On Sunday, August 5th, at approximately 3 p.m., a deceased male was found in the section of the Southfork of the New River that runs alongside of Brookshire Park.

The Boone Police Department immediately began an investigation into the incident. The victim was identified as Tylor Nathaniel Cook, age 25, of Boone.

Detectives conducted many interviews to learn about Cook and his activities before his death. During this investigation, Detectives learned the following important facts about Cook and the situation surrounding his disappearance and death:

  • He had seriously impaired vision and he usually had someone to help him navigate his surroundings
  • He often chose to walk to places in Boone, rather than ride the bus
  • He had not been seen alive since Friday, August 3rd at 10:27 a.m
  • He was not known to be a very good swimmer
  • He was living at the Hospitality House in Boone

On Friday, August 3rd, at 10:27 a.m., a surveillance camera captured video footage of Cook walking alone just off Hwy 421, and he was not seen alive again after this moment. Interviews were conducted with all of Cook’s known associates and investigators went to all of the locations that he was known to frequent. The facts learned throughout the investigation do not indicate that Cook’s death was intentional.

Detectives believe Cook was walking back home to the Hospitality House. At some point, he would have had to cross the New River to get to that destination. The most used path and most logical choice for this trip would have included crossing the river by use of a low water bridge located on Casey Lane. Due to the recent heavy rainfall at that time, the water would have been over the bridge. The water level of the river was up as much as 5 feet above normal and was moving much faster than usual. It would have been dangerous to attempt to cross the bridge at this time.

An autopsy was conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The preliminary autopsy results indicated there was water inside of his lungs. The autopsy did not indicate any injuries consistent with foul play.

The most likely scenario is that the water coming over the bridge was moving too fast for Cook to safely cross the river. It would appear that Cook was swept into the fast moving water while crossing the bridge to get to the Hospitality House. Due to his vision problems and lack of swimming abilities, the river overpowered him and he drowned.

Chief Dana Crawford released the following statement:

"We have been in touch with the victim’s family and wish to express our deepest sympathy for their loss. As we most likely have another round of flooding rain coming our way with Hurricane Florence, we want to urge everyone to be cautious in areas of fast moving water and not to take risks.

"I would like to thank our Criminal Investigations Unit and the other First Responders for their hard work and dedication. Anytime a life is lost, it is our solemn duty to determine the cause to the best of our ability.”