The death of Elijah Weatherspoon has sparked online petitions calling for a thorough investigation into his death, which authorities say occurred after the 18 year old jumped off a boat Thursday night.
Weatherspoon went missing Thursday and was found dead Sunday near Sullivan's Island, according to the Charleston County Coroner's office. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is investigating, but said a coroner's report will guide its investigation.
According to a DNR spokesperson Robert McCullough, the investigation is "going along as it should." The agency representative told the City Paper
that, at this time, it looks like nine people were boating and "out having a good time" on the Cooper River. Weatherspoon, according to DNR, jumped in the water to swim and "got in trouble." A friend jumped in to help, but couldn't save him.
The teenager was born in Jacksonville, N.C. and lived in North Charleston, according to Javaron Buckley, the attorney for Weatherspoon's family.
While the coroner's report was not completed as of Monday evening, an attorney for Weatherspoon's family suspects "foul play" and is calling for an independent, in-depth investigation into the circumstances surrounding the young man's death.
"For him to have drowned is pretty far fetched," said Buckley of the Illinois-based Buckley Law Group. Buckley and Weatherspoon's family claim he was too-good of a swimmer, and said local police are not "doing a sufficient job" investigating. Buckley said the family has not received a report on the investigation from DNR.
Weatherspoon's father, Buckley said, claims his son was the only person of color on the boat. McCullough said people on scene indicated that only half the people on the boat were white, but those details have not been confirmed, he said.
At least two online
petitions calling for a thorough investigation of Weatherspoon's death have garnered thousands of signatures as of Tuesday morning.
At this time, the cause of death is pending awaiting an autopsy, according to deputy coroner Elizabeth Dobbins.