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Published: Tuesday, 8/3/2004

Columbus man drowns next to his docked boat

PORT CLINTON - A Columbus man found dead at a Catawba Island Township marina drowned in Lake Erie next to his docked motorboat, the Ottawa County coroner ruled yesterday.

John A. Palmer, 55, was found floating in the water by a neighboring boater about 11 a.m. Sunday, Coroner Gilbert Bucholz said. He said he considers Mr. Palmer's death accidental but is awaiting results of toxicology tests before making a ruling.

The coroner said Mr. Palmer was alone on his boat at Winke's Landing and apparently fell into the lake late Saturday or early Sunday. Cuts and scrapes on the man's body indicate he tried to pull himself back onto the boat, Dr. Bucholz said.

The coroner said "multiple" empty beer cans were found on Mr. Palmer's 35-foot Viking motorboat. The coroner said a friend of Mr. Palmer told him the victim had few or no swimming skills.

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