unrecovered body of drowning victim
Asked by: myconundrum-ga
List Price: $10.00
12 Sep 2005 13:22 PDT
Expires: 12 Oct 2005 13:22 PDT
Question ID: 567257
a female relative drowned while canoeing on an Ontario lake. The lake is 320' deep in places. Her body has not been recovered since July 1st. She was not wearing a life jacket. Is there a chance that her body is suspended at a certain level and would therefore not be found by a search of the bottom? sincere thanks for any useful information.
Re: unrecovered body of drowning victim
Answered By: denco-ga on 12 Sep 2005 14:47 PDT
My condolences on your loss, myconundrum-ga. A frank presentation of these circumstances might be disturbing, so I apologize in advance if the following causes any discomfort. A reminder of the "Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice." This University of Dundee web page speaks directly about this subject. "EFFECTS OF IMMERSION" http://www.dundee.ac.uk/forensicmedicine/llb/water.htm "A body in water will usually sink but because the specific gravity of a body is very close to that of water then small variations e.g. air trapped in clothing have a considerable effect on buoyancy. Having sunk to the bottom the body will remain there until ... sufficient buoyancy to allow it to rise to the surface and float. ... The principal determinant is the temperature of the water so that in deep very cold water e.g. the North American Great Lakes or the ocean the body may never resurface." You should read the article above in detail for all of the information, but again, it is a frank description of the process, so it might be disturbing to read. This Yahoo! Groups posting speaks to how specific gravity plays a role in all of this. Some parts of the original posting might be disturbing. http://br.groups.yahoo.com/group/amigosdavida/message/67 "... drowning victims will sink to the point they displace their weight in water, and then will stay there ... If the victim is denser than water, he or she will displace more water, until totally immersed. If the victim is less dense than water, the victim will not displace as much water, and will float." This Moyle Information Services for Law Enforcement page provides details, again some of which might be distrurbing. http://dmmoyle.com/simeans.htm "The drowning victim's body typically sinks shortly after death. It will resurface 3 days to 3 weeks after death. ... Lake Superior is said to be too cold offshore for a drowning victim to decompose, so that they never surface." My reading in detail of the above articles indicates that a body will either be on the bottom of the body of water, and depending on the temperature of the body of water, might very well stay on the bottom, or it will eventually rise to the surface. At some time the body might be in the process of rising very slowly to the surface, but my reading indicates that it would not stay suspended at any one certain level for any real period of time. If you need any clarification, please feel free to ask. Search strategy: Google search on: "specific gravity" drowning ://www.google.com/search?q=%22specific+gravity%22+drowning Looking Forward, denco-ga - Google Answers Researcher
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Re: unrecovered body of drowning victim
From: philonthejob-ga on 16 Sep 2005 08:41 PDT
First let me say that I have no experience with freshwater. I served in the US Coast Guard, and my uncle did 37 years in the NYC Harbor Patrol, so my comments are more real world and practical, rather than scientific. Drowning victims, are usually found very close to where they drowned, when they are submerged. They only time that a body will move, is if something or someone moves it, or it floats to the surface and floats away with tide or current. There are other factors that will determine if a body will float or sink, victims wearing heavy boots and clothing will stay submerged longer if not indefinitely. Swimmers from beaches, or boats wearing only bathing suits, usuall surface in a matter of days, because they are usually swimming in warm weather. Winter jumpers in NYC will usually be recovered in spring, when the waters warm up, and can float considerable distances because of our severe tides. Murder victims that have been gutted, wearing cement shoes, or weighted down significantly are sometimes never recovered. Their bodies simply float away in globules, and are consumed by marine life and bacteria. In your case in a cold freshwater lake, a rather large one. The body is probably on the bottom near where she drowned. In a lake that size, and depth, a thorough search of the bottom is not economical, or feasable. It is the proverbial needle in a haystack. If she was wearing clothing, or suffered certain trauma, it's possible that her body may never surface. Successful searches and recoveries of bodies have occurred in deeper waters, but they involved millions of dollars of equipment, of the US Navy's deep submergence unit. This obviously is very expensive, and only available to the government. My condolences.
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