The mother of an Oklahoma City man who drowned at Lake Thunderbird last month said she is not satisfied with the state's investigation and will not rest until an autopsy is done.
Lyria Henderson, of Moore, said extenuating circumstances surrounding the death of her son, Roosevelt Livingston, lead her to believe there may be more to the story than a simple drowning.
But representatives with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the state medical examiner's office said the investigation found nothing suggesting foul play and nothing warranting an autopsy.
Henderson wants the public's help in financing a $4,000 independent autopsy.
Livingston, 27, was swimming with three female friends near buoys May 26 and was about 10 feet offshore of Zoom Beach when he went under and never resurfaced, authorities said.
The death was ruled an accidental drowning. A laboratory report released Tuesday indicates Livingston showed no signs of fatal trauma and that he had been drinking alcohol at the time of the drowning.
But Henderson said circumstances surrounding the incident lead her to believe her son's death was not an accident. She said that his swimming partners waited an hour before calling police, and that his cellphone was found with him in the water, its portable identification card removed.
“My son was no dummy — he wouldn't have gotten into that water if he was drinking,” she said. “But there's so many problems in the medical examiner's office I don't even want them to do an autopsy on my son.”
Amy Elliott, chief administrative officer for Oklahoma medical examiner's office, said nothing has been found to show a need for an autopsy.
Fluid was found in Livingston's lungs, Elliott said.
“If something is found that is suspicious it turns into an autopsy case,” she said.
Danny Proctor, a trooper with the patrol's marine enforcement section, said witness statements corroborated evidence found at the scene. Procter said three women were with Livingston when he disappeared, but he did not know whether the women were swimming with him at the time or if he was swimming alone.
Procter said it did not strike him as unusual that the women waited to call police.
“When people go swimming at the lake it is so chaotic, people are missing for two or three hours or sometimes half a day before they come back,” he said.
He said if Henderson has evidence to the contrary, she should present it to the patrol.
Livingston's aunt, Heather Henderson, said foul play or not, the family would like to know more about how he died.
“I could understand if he couldn't swim, that's one thing. But the fact that he swam out there to the buoy and never swam back — so how did he drown? A heart attack?” she said. “I think something's up, but whether it was natural causes or not we just don't know.”