By Mannix Porterfield
An investigation is in progress by the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department into the apparent drowning of a middle-age man in Blue Bend, a popular swimming spot in the region.
Sheriff Jan Cahill identified the victim as Thomas Michael Richter, a 53-year-old resident of the White Sulphur Springs area, who was found in the water Friday morning.
Concerns were raised and brought to the attention of the sheriff’s office after park rangers discovered some of Richter’s personal items.
Divers opened a search and discovered the victim in the water.
Chief Deputy Bruce Sloan said authorities are not looking at the death from the standpoint of foul play.
“At this point in time, we don’t have any reason to believe it is anything but an accidental drowning,” Sloan said. “Since it was an unattended death, we are still conducting an investigation to determine exactly what did happen.”
Sloan said other swimmers had used the swimming hole earlier in the day.
“Thus far, we haven’t located anyone who was with him at the time,” the chief deputy said. “That’s why we’re conducting an investigation.”
Sloan said Richter’s body was sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Charleston for an autopsy.
Blue Bend has been a popular gathering spot for swimmers, the deputy pointed out.
“It is well attended, especially at this time of year, with many locals swimming,” Sloan added.