On Sunday, August 5 at approximately 3 p.m., a deceased male was found in the section of the South Fork of the New River that runs alongside of Brookshire Park. The Boone Police Department immediately began an investigation into the incident. The victim was identified as Tylor Nathaniel Cook, 25, of Boone.
Detectives conducted many interviews to learn about Cook and his activities before his death. During this investigation, Detectives learned the following important facts about Mr. Cook and the situation surrounding his disappearance and death:
- Cook had seriously impaired vision and he usually had someone to help him navigate his surroundings. He often chose to walk to places in Boone, rather than ride the bus.
- He had not been seen alive since Friday, August 3 at 10:27 a.m.
- He was not known to be a very good swimmer.
- He was living at the Hospitality House in Boone.
On Friday, August 3 at 10:27 a.m., a surveillance camera captured video footage of Mr. Cook walking alone just off Highway 421. Mr. Cook was not seen alive again after this moment. Interviews were conducted with all of Mr. Cook’s known associates and investigators went to all of the locations that Mr. Cook was known to frequent. The facts learned throughout the investigation do not indicate that Mr. Cook’s death was intentional.
Detectives believe Mr. Cook was walking back home to the Hospitality House. At some point, he would have had to cross the New River to get to that destination. The most used path and most logical choice for this trip would have included crossing the river by use of a low water bridge located on Casey Lane. Due to the recent heavy rainfall at that time, the water would have been over the bridge. The water level of the river was up as much as five feet above normal and was moving much faster than usual. It would have been dangerous to attempt to cross the bridge at this time.
An autopsy was conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The preliminary autopsy results indicated there was water inside of his lungs. The autopsy did not indicate any injuries consistent with foul play.
The Boone Police Department believes the most likely scenario is that the water coming over the bridge was moving too fast for Mr. Cook to safely cross the river. It would appear that Mr. Cook was swept into the fast moving water while crossing the bridge to get to the Hospitality House. Due to his vision problems and lack of swimming abilities, the river overpowered him and he drowned.
“I would like to thank our Criminal Investigations Unit and the other First Responders for their hard work and dedication. Anytime a life is lost, it is our solemn duty to determine the cause to the best of our ability,” said Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford.
Boone PD has been in touch with the victim’s family and wish to express their deepest sympathy for their loss. As there is most likely another round of flooding rain coming this way with Hurricane Florence, the Boone Police Department wants to urge everyone to be cautious in areas of fast moving water and not to take risks.