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Drowning conclusion in Galesburg death disputed by family, outside law enforcement

GALESBURG (WEEK) – It’s been over a year since 23-year-old Tyler Smith was found dead at the bottom of Cedar Fork Creek in Galesburg.

Galesburg police have said his official cause of death was drowning and do not suspect foul play.

His family and outside law enforcement gathered at the place his body was found today to express their disagreement with the outcome of the death investigation.

The Missing Persons Awareness Network along with a crime scene recreationist and a retired Cook County police officer reexamined the evidence, leading them to believe the Galesburg Police Department did not follow basic crime scene protocol and rushed to conclusions.

They are calling for Illinois State Police to take over the case and for another autopsy.

“Opinion number one: Tyler Smith likely suffered a battery by persons not yet known that directly lead to his death,” said retired East Hazel Crest police officer Mitchell Drake. “He was likely unconscious prior to his final placement in Cedar Fork Creek.”

“We miss our son and as hard as it would be for us to allow his body to be exhumed for a second autopsy, we are to the point that we understand it’s important for answers – for finding truth,” said Tyler’s mother Sandra Halsne.

Drake said evidence of cuts and bruises point to battery and another autopsy would need to be done to find more evidence. He said video evidence from a nearby Casey’s shows Smith walking with no signs of issue.

The coroner has said his BAC was .246.

Drake said the Galesburg police chief refused to meet with him to discuss the case.

After reaching out to the Galesburg Police Department, Captain. Rod Riggs said they stand by the investigation into Tyler Smith’s Death, which concluded he died in an accidental drowning.

Riggs said they consulted the Knox County State’s Attorney and coroner, finding no evidence of a crime.

Jason Howell

web producer and stills photographer for 25 News and Heart of Illinois ABC

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