A 22-year-old man found dead Sunday afternoon in a drainage ditch off of Interstate 70 in Warrenton apparently drowned in 6 to 8 inches of water, according to authorities.
Based on preliminary results from an autopsy conducted Monday, authorities said the death of Andrew Ell appeared to be accidental. Mark Schimweg, deputy commander of the St. Louis Area Major Case Squad, said Ell had been drinking with friends Friday night and that could have been a contributing factor in his death.
Police are still awaiting the results of a toxicology test, which will not be available for six to eight weeks.
Ell’s body was found face down in a shallow amount of water about a mile west of Highway 47 in a ditch between Highway W and Hawthorne Hills Drive, authorities said. He was located Sunday afternoon by a member of a search party organized by family and friends. Ell was pronounced dead at the scene around 1:30 p.m. by coroner Roger Mauzy.
Though Ell was originally from St. Charles County, he had been living in Warren County.
The suspicious nature of where and how Ell was found prompted the activation of the Major Case Squad.
Ell’s death has been ruled accidental and no foul play is suspected, according to authorities.
Ell was last seen alive Friday evening around midnight in the area of Jack in the Box, Schimweg reported. He had been out with friends earlier in the night and then became separated from them when they went to eat at the fast-food restaurant.
Schimweg said it appeared Ell had walked in the direction of his residence, located about eight miles away from Jack in the Box. However, authorities have yet to determine why Ell began walking from the area where his friends were or how he wound up in the drainage ditch.
“That would be purely speculation,” Schimweg stated. “The final autopsy results will be concluded once the toxicology comes back. I couldn’t really comment on why he couldn’t get away” from the water.