Metro-East News

Missouri man identified as person found inside vehicle in river at Grafton

A Florissant, Mo., man has been identified as the person who was found inside a vehicle that was pulled from the Mississippi River near the Grafton lighthouse on Tuesday.

James Edward Smith, 26, was the person inside the vehicle, said Jersey County Coroner Larry Alexander. An autopsy found that Smith drowned. Alexander said there was no foul play suspected in Smith’s death. Alexander could not say whether Smith committed suicide or he died as the result of an accident. The case is still under investigation.

The Grafton Police Department and Jersey County Sheriff’s Department received assistance from several other agencies in recovering a maroon Mercury Grand Marquis from the river during the noon hour Tuesday. Grafton Police Chief Peggy O’Neil said in a news release Tuesday that the vehicle was located approximately 30 yards away from a riverbank where witnesses saw it sink on Saturday night.

“There is no indication of suspicious circumstances at this time,” O’Neil wrote.

According to, a family witnessed the vehicle go into the river. The family believed the man was trying to commit suicide.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Mutual Aid Box Alarm Systems of Illinois, Jacksonville-Morgan County Dive Team and Team Water Sonar Search and Recovery assisted at the scene.

Don O’Brien: 618-239-2626, @DOBrienBND