Body found in Potomac River near route to cherry trees

April 6, 2013

A fisherman on Saturday morning discovered a body in the Potomac River south of the Lincoln Memorial and near a path used by some people seeking to view the cherry blossoms.

Police identified the man as Robert Groshan, 63, of Northwest Washington.

No cause of death was available, police said.

The body was found about 10 a.m. near Independence Avenue and Ohio Drive SW, near the statue for John Ericsson, a Civil War era inventor, and near Memorial Bridge.

Ohio Drive was closed to vehicles for several hours between Independence Avenue and West Basin Drive, complicating already heavy tourist traffic that was diverted onto smaller roads in West Potomac Park.

Officer Araz Alali, a District police spokesman, said that the man’s body was fully clothed and that there were no visible signs of trauma. Alali said the body had been in the water for at least several days. An autopsy is pending.

Yellow police tape draped a grassy area along the water, and people were ushered away from Ericsson’s statue. But all that could be seen was a cluster of police cars and detectives gathered at the waterfront.

Although the site was about a quarter-mile west of the Tidal Basin, where most tourists go to view the cherry blossoms, several signature cherry trees line Ohio Drive.

One of the few to be in full bloom Saturday was just outside the police tape blocking off the scene.

Several tourists and others from the District headed directly for that tree to take photos, some oblivious to the officers guarding the area. Others purposely wanted to include the police as a backdrop in their pictures.

“We just wanted to see the trees, and this one was perfect,” said John McManus of Northwest, who posed with his wife for a snapshot.

McManus said he suspected a body had been found, although others had no idea what was happening. Across the street, soccer and rugby games continued without disruption.

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