Journal Published Online: 01 January 2002
Volume 47, Issue 1

Bodies Found in the Waterways of New York City



We reviewed the case records for all decedents recovered from the waterways of New York City over a three year period (1997–2000). The epidemiological profile, circumstances, toxicology findings, putrefactive changes, date of recovery, length of immersion, and injuries were examined. There were 123 deaths: 52 suicides, 50 undetermined, 16 accidents, and five homicides. The causes of death included: 97 drownings, 13 undetermined, and 13 other. Of all the floating decedents, 27% were without putrefactive change. All found after two or more weeks of immersion were recovered from November to May. The detection of ethanol and illicit drugs was 53% in the accident, 41% in the suicide, and 33% in the undetermined groups. Detection of ethanol and/or drugs of abuse is not a reliable criterion to distinguish suicide from accident. The identification of the deceased is pivotal for determining the manner of these deaths. Therefore, a great reliance is placed upon the medical investigator and the police (including the missing persons bureau) to determine the circumstances and identification of the decedent.

Author Information

Lucas, J
New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
Goldfeder, LB
New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
Gill, JR
New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
Pages: 5
Price: $25.00
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Stock #: JFS15214J
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS15214J