Body Found in Savannah River Identified

SAVANNAH, GA-- Authorities have identified the body found Thursday floating in the Savannah River as 82-year-old David J. Rice.

Capt. Sean McDonald, of the Juliet Gordon Lowe Ferry Boat, found Rice's body around 1pm when he was transporting passengers from the Savannah Marriott Riverfront hotel to the Westin hotel.

"I saw something floating bobbing off the bow, caught my attention so took a look at it," he said. "Unfortunately it looked like it was a person floating face down."

Immediately he called 911 and then secured the body so it wouldn't drift off. At the time the passengers had no idea what was going on.  They were told to exit the vessel because it was temporarily out of service, but it didn't take long for them to figure out what was going on.

"You know when you have police and fire department showing up and yellow tape going up, they kind of figure out pretty quickly," said Capt. McDonald.

The ferry was shut down temporarily while police conducted their investigation. Detectives had made a tentative identification on the man Thursday, but waited on fingerprints before releasing his identity today.

An autopsy by the GBI crime lab determined there were no signs of foul play on the body and crime lab technicians say the cause of death was drowning. At this time, Savannah-Chatham police say the drowning appears to be accidental.

Rice's family says he was semi-homeless.

Reported by: Christy Hutchings,