YAKIMA, Wash. - A Yakima man was found dead near a popular city walkway Wednesday morning, sending investigators searching for answers.
At first, investigators considered the death suspicious. But as they put the pieces together and an autopsy was performed, it was determined the man died due to an accidental drowning, something police say they've seen before.
A popular spot for runners and bikers, the Yakima Greenway is usually bustling with activity. But Wednesday morning, part of the city-wide pathway transformed into a crime scene after a woman discovered a dead body on her morning walk.
"There was so much stuff of his scattered around the area that anybody walking there would have noticed it," said Capt. Rod Light with the Yakima Police Department.
Investigators say they found a backpack and other items they believe belonged to the victim on a bench. And then less than 50 feet away, the victim's body partially submerged in the canal.
Police closed a portion of the Greenway near Myron Lake while they investigated. It was a scene that caught Robert Travis by surprise.
"Dead body is a dead body. But sorry to see someone pass away out here on the Greenway," said Robert Travis, a Greenway volunteer.
Travis has been volunteering at the Greenway for about seven years. He says unfortunately this is not the first body found near the popular path, and it likely will not be the last.
"It happens. It'll probably happen again. I hope not this year again, but you never know," he said.
Investigators say they found alcohol at the scene which they believe may have led to the 59-year-old's death. The Yakima County Coroner has ruled it an accidental drowning.
"People that are around water, bodies of water, streams, lakes, whatever the case may be. If they're drinking alcohol they need to use due care and caution because we've seen this now, the same scenario, twice in a couple months here in Yakima," said Capt. Light.
In March the body of a woman was found in a canal near the Harman Center. That case was also ruled an accident.
Police say they believe the 59-year-old died sometime in the last 24 hours. Investigators say they do have evidence to believe the victim was a transient. His name has not been released.