HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Charles Trotter died of drowning and it was an accident. Those were the findings of a Monday autopsy performed just after the missing man's body was discovered in the Jourdan River.
Divers from the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources found the 41-year-old in the river just east of McLeod Park. The Slidell man had brought his family over to Hancock County to watch the Saints game at a friend's house Sunday. When the game ended, they all decided to go for a swim, and that's when things turned tragic.
"He would do anything for us. He doesn't deserve this," said Charles' widow, Michelle Trotter.
As divers and search and rescue teams combed the river looking for Charles Trotter's body, his family and friends were holding on to hope that he'd be found alive.
"He's going to come out, they can't give up. I'm afraid they're going to give up again today," said an emotional Michelle early Monday morning. "I hope that he comes out. I love him and I want him to come out safe. I want him to come back to us."
Sadly, that didn't happen. B.J. Fink was one of Trotter's best friends. He was there when Trotter tried to help his 7-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son cross the river.
"We seen them coming back and he was helping Tiara come across and it looked like the last thing he did was push her toward the bank and made sure she was fine," Fink explained. "He just looked like he got tired. I seen him go under. He came back up, he went back under, he didn't come back up. His step-son was right there. His step-son said, 'Hurry, somebody help.' I threw off all my clothes, jumped in, went and looked for him, went under. I couldn't even touch bottom and I couldn't find him."
Authorities say when Trotter's body was found, it was fully clothed and he was wearing a Saints jersey. Family members speculate his stomach was full from eating snacks during the game and he caught a cramp while swimming.
"You're fully clothed and you're out there swimming, the current's bad and sometimes these clothes will get pretty heavy," said Matt Karl with the Hancock County Sheriff's Department. "And from what I understand, he swam across the river. The clothing could have gotten heavier. And where he went down at, it's about 13 feet. Trying to touch bottom and it just wasn't there."
Seventeen hours after Trotter was reported missing, divers pulled his body out of the murky water, about 40 feet from where witnesses say he went under.
Charles Trotter celebrated his 41st birthday on Saturday. He is the third person to die in a drowning incident in the last three days on the coast.