RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh police are investigating the death of a man found floating in Crabtree Creek near Lead Mine Road early Sunday morning.
CBS 17 has learned the victim was a homeless man who had been missing several days and had been been befriended by someone who had been trying to help him over the years.
The victim lived under a bridge that crosses Crabtree Creek by Century Drive.
It’s an area that’s frequented by the areas’s homeless.
The greenway that runs adjacent to the creek is a popular spot and the yellow police tape along a portion of it was unnerving to some.
“It’s always disturbing when you see something like this unsettling thing happen near where you live, said greenway user Jeremy Driver.
The victim hadn’t been seen in a while.
“He’s been missing since the day I saw him last, 5 P.M. Friday, said Patrick Gabbard who had befriended victim.
Gabbard says he first became familiar with the victim during his walks on the greenway.
“I knew him because I started passing him, said Gabbard. “I started hanging out with him because he was friendly.
Just before 8 this morning, police say a cyclist saw the body floating in the creek in about a foot of water.
It was a tragic end to a man who Gabbard says struggled with alcoholism.
CBS 17 asked Gabbard what made him open up his heart to the victim.
“I just try to help people,” he said. “I can’t walk away from people like that.”
Gabbard told police the victim had no immediate family in the area so he tried to help as best as he could.
“I’d buy him food and stuff like water,” Gabbard said.
He says he treated the victim like a brother.
“He needed a friend — someone to look after him a bit,” he said.
When the weather was tolerable the victim lived outdoors under the bridge, but when the weather turned bad, Gabbard was there to help.
“When it was snowing I’d let him come to my apartment and stay the night to give him someplace warm to sleep,” he explained.
But, Gabbard feels guilty that he couldn’t help the victim shake the demons that possessed him .
“For anyone listening, don’t let alcohol consume your life. It’ll take you over,” said Gabbard.
Police say they’ll need an autopsy to determine the cause of death and they’ll need to notify family before releasing the victim’s name.
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