Homeless man found in canal drowned

An autopsy has determined that the 50-year-old homeless man found dead in the Augusta Canal on Wednesday morning drowned.

Several employees of Enterprise Mill discovered the body of Herman Johnson about 7:40 a.m., according to Richmond County Chief Deputy Coroner Mark Bowen. His body was held by the canal's current at a bar rack, which prevents logs and other large debris from entering the mill's turbines.

Mr. Bowen said Mr. Johnson was last seen walking on the towpath about 12 hours earlier by some of the mill's employees. Authorities initially thought Mr. Johnson had been in the water for more than 24 hours but have since scaled it back to about 10 hours.

Richmond County sheriff's crime scene and homicide investigators were at the canal as Mr. Johnson's body was pulled from the water, but they will not be looking into the death.

Sheriff's Homicide Investigator James Kelly said it did not appear that any foul play was involved. He said they are not sure where Mr. Johnson fell into the water.

"We have no idea where he fell in at," Investigator Kelly said. "He could have floated for a while."

According to Mr. Bowen, there were no clear signs that it was a homicide, but they are doing a blood test to check for drugs and alcohol.

"We don't suspect any foul play, but we do want toxicology to see what was all in his system," he said.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.