Shrimper Finds Woman's Body in Lazaretto Creek - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/17/07

Shrimper Finds Woman's Body in Lazaretto Creek

Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department detectives spent this smoky Savannah day trying to learn more about a woman found floating off Tybee Island. A shrimper spotted the woman around 8:45am in the water just south of the Lazaretto Creek Bridge.

Jeff James and the rest of the crew on the shrimp boat were getting ready to dock when James saw something--someone--in the water.

"The body just washed up," James said. "I don't know where the body come from, nothing like that."

James didn't recognize her and said she barely had any clothes on. "All I know is bikini bottoms, that's all I know," he said.

Someone on the boat called the Coast Guard and they called police. Once detectives and forensic officers arrived, they pulled the body out of the water.

Capt. Larry Branson, the commander for the Islands Precinct said, "It is a white female, there's no signs of trauma or foul play."

Police didn't know who she was or how she got in the water. They said it didn't appear she'd been in the water long.

Shrimpers say the water in Lazaretto Creek has been moving pretty fast for the past couple of days, about four knots. That translates to about ten miles an hour. That made it more difficult for police to find out where she came from.

That's why they checked all missing persons reports and talked to other shrimpers in the area who may have known who she was.

"All we can do is wait on police, let it run its course," James said.

He said he has never seen anything like this in his 35 years as a shrimper, and hopes he never does again.

Police took the woman's body to the crime lab for autopsy.

Just before 6pm tonight, police released the woman's identity. She was Joyce Harrison of Tybee Island, who they say enjoyed swimming in the ocean. The medical examiner has ruled her death an accidental drowning.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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