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Paul Swenson death a result of drowning, medical examiner finds

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SOUTH SALT LAKE — An American Fork man whose body was found in a South Salt Lake creek after a massive search died by drowning, according to a medical examiner’s report released Thursday.

The body of Paul Swenson, 30, was recovered from Mill Creek near 235 W. 2950 South on Aug. 13. South Salt Lake police spokesman Gary Keller said Thursday Swenson had alcohol and THC in his system at the time of his death. He added that there were no signs of foul play.

Keller said he did not have an exact level of intoxication Swenson was at the time of his death. Police are still investigating Swenson's death even after a cause was determined, he added.

He said the department was awaiting results from an FBI forensic lab about Swenson's car, a black BMW he was last seen driving.

"It's still an ongoing investigation," Keller said. While South Salt Lake Police leads the investigation, he said American Fork and Unified police are also assisting. "(There are) so many questions we still have that whether or not we'll ever determine a motive or other information, I can't guarantee that."

Swenson went missing on July 27. His vehicle was found in Salt Lake City the following day, sparking searches across the Salt Lake valley. Officers and volunteers searched across the area where his vehicle was discovered and where his cellphone was last pinged the evening of his disappearance near 4700 South and 900 East.

American Fork Police Sgt. Josh Christensen said in August Swenson's wife and others reported that Swenson was acting strangely in the days before he disappeared, leading police to believe he was not in a good mental state when he last left his American Fork home. He also had seen a doctor the morning of his disappearance complaining of chest pain.

The extensive search that lasted more than two weeks ended when the body was discovered in the creek.

"Thank you for your prayers for Paul and our whole family. We are asking for privacy as our family takes the time to absorb this tragic news and to mourn," Swenson’s family wrote in a Facebook post the following day. "We want to express our deepest gratitude to you as our community. Your support has lifted us. Please pray for us."

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.


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