Police say Sharon death due to drowning
Assistant News Editor
After reviewing the results of the autopsy conducted today on Chad Sharon's body, police said Sharon died from drowning and that foul play was likely not involved.
"The cause of death is consistent with drowning," said Rex Rakow, director of Notre Dame Security Police. "There was no indication of foul play or other trauma to the body."
Sharon's body was discovered by construction workers yesterday floating in about two feet of water underneath the Angela Bridge. Police made a tentative identification yesterday based on the Notre Dame medal Sharon was wearing and identification found in a wallet on his body. Sharon was first reported as missing by Fisher Hall staff on Dec. 12 when he did not return from an off-campus party on Corby Street. Sharon had told friends he would return to campus on his own.
A Madison Center employee later reported speaking with Sharon early on the morning of Dec. 12. Madison Center Hospital on Niles Avenue is located further southeast from Notre Dame than the Corby Street party Sharon attended before he disappeared. The Angela bridge where Sharon's body was located is almost directly west of the University and slightly northwest of the Madison Center.
Though NDSP, in conjunction with state and local authorities, conducted a thorough search of the St. Joseph River in the days following Sharon's Dec. 12 disappearance, Rakow said it was possible that those searches may have missed sections of the river. "My feeling is that he probably was held underneath by debris," Rakow said. "We had those high winds [Tuesday] and I'm thinking the wind and the water might have freed him."
In their searches of the river and its vicinity, police used search boats, helicopters and dogs and drove by the river daily, Rakow said.
While Rakow believed foul play was not involved, he said several questions remained for police to investigate. "We don't know how he got there," said Rakow. "There could be several scenarios that place him in the river."
Rakow said NDSP, who has had primary jurisdiction in the missing person case so far, will work with the County Metro Homicide police to investigate the remaining details.
"County Metro Homicide will be looking at the results and the issue of how he got in the river," said Rakow. "We will assist them. It will be cooperative."
Sharon's parents, Steve and Jane Sharon, arrived on campus Thursday to meet with police and expressed their thanks to everyone who knew their son and worked on the missing person investigation.
"I'd like to thank everyone in the Notre Dame community," said Steve Sharon. "Most of all our gratitude goes to Chad's friends in Fisher. The entire Notre Dame family helped us through with their kind words and encouragement," he said.
Though the news of their son's death wasn't what the Sharons had hoped to hear, Steve Sharon said the recent events did bring closure to the uncertainty he and his wife have lived with for the past two months.
Steve Sharon also reflected on his only child's feelings about being a student at Notre Dame.
"Chad loved Notre Dame and it will always be a special place. We will be back because Notre Dame means a lot to us." Steve and Jane Sharon returned to their home in Pelican Lake, Wis. late Thursday.
The funeral for Chad Sharon will be held next weekend in his hometown. A memorial mass at Notre Dame will take place shortly after the funeral.
All News Stories for Friday, February 14, 2003