Police ID man found in channel

State declines autopsy request

Posted: Sunday, June 10, 2007

Juneau police have released the name of a man found dead in Gastineau Channel last week.

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Henry David Demmert, 52, was found in the channel near the Taku Oil dock not far from several cruise ships that were in port Wednesday morning.

Authorities believe Demmert drowned. A preliminary investigation turned up no evidence that would indicate a homicide.

"We did a head-to-toe visual inspection of the body and found nothing unusual," Juneau Police Sgt. Dave Campbell said.

Determining the exact cause of death could take some time, said Campbell.

Demmert's body was flown to Anchorage with an autopsy request, but doctors in the state medical examiner's office did not conduct the procedure.

"We did order an a toxicology screen," said Mary Harrington, a spokeswoman in the medical examiner's office. The medical examiner wasn't available for comment on why the request was refused, she said.

Campbell said he was concerned that a toxicology screen might not provide an exact cause of death, as an autopsy would.

"It could have been a heart attack, but we won't know," Campbell said. "The state owes it to families to know."

• Contact Greg Skinner at 523-2258 or greg.skinner@juneauempire.com.

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