Kansas man's drowning in SLC ruled an accident

Sugar House • Alcohol was a contributing factor in his death, investigators say.
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It turns out a once-suspicious drowning in Fairmont Park was actually an accident.

In February, 38-year-old James D. Panovich was found lifeless in a pond of the southeast Salt Lake City park. The autopsy report finally came back earlier this month, announcing that Panovich had accidentally drowned and that alcohol had played a part, said Detective Cody Lougy.

"He had a pretty high [blood alcohol concentration] level in his system," Lougy said.

Panovich hails from Kansas. Though authorities said he was believed to have moved recently to Utah, he had no local address.

On Feb. 4, several people who had come to the Sugar House area park at 1040 E. Sugarmont Drive (2225 South) to feed ducks in the pond found Panovich's body. Firefighters retrieved the body, which was about 10 feet from shore, an hour later.

The remains were then turned over to the State Medical Examiner's Office.

Police did not know how long the body was in the pond, but it did not appear badly decomposed. Police Sgt. Shawn Josephson said at the time that investigators would have to rely heavily on the autopsy results to determine how he died.

A second wet, intoxicated 35-year-old man was near the pond, who police believed was likely acquainted with the victim. The man had been taken to the hospital overnight to be treated for exposure.


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