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Michigan man celebrates winning lottery, dies with ticket in wallet, washes up on beach

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A body washed up onto a Michigan shore Friday morning with an unusual item on it – a winning lottery ticket.

The corpse was identified as Gregory Jarvis, aged 57, and the winning ticket was found in his wallet, which washed up with him on a private beach of Saginaw Bay in Michigan’s Huron County.

The ticket was for $45,000 from “The Jack”, on September 13th at the Blue Water Inn in Caseville.

Jarvis was a “very nice guy, he was here everyday,” in the words of owner Dawn Talaski, as reported by ABC12 News (WJRT). “$45,000. Somebody said someone just won ‘The Jack’ and he said, great, and someone asked him was it you and it was, so he was super excited,” Talaski continued.

On the night of September 19th, he had been at the Blue Water Inn buying rounds of drinks for everyone, though he still had not cashed the check, since he did not have a Social Security card in good condition, and the replacement he ordered was still in the mail when he died. That night would be the last time anyone saw him alive.

Talaski said she felt something was wrong when Jarvis didn’t show up the next night, or at all that week, which she felt was highly out of character for a regular like him: “Sometimes he’s up north working, he wasn’t here all week and we thought, something is wrong.” Her suspicions were further amplified when Jarvis’ boss came into the inn looking for him, saying Jarvis hadn’t shown up at work all week.

That Friday, an unmanned boat drifted ashore, which was identified as Jarvis’ vessel. The police investigated, and his body was later located along the shoreline. The autopsy showed injuries on the head consistent with a fall, and water in the lungs, suggesting that he had fallen in his boat, then slipped into the water and drowned.

“We are thinking that he was tying up his boat, slipped and fell, hit his head, and that’s where he ended up in the water. No foul play suspected,” Police Chief Kyle Romzek said to WJRT.

Authorities were suspicious at first, when they located the winning ticket, and investigated further. However, the investigation didn’t reveal anyone with sufficient motive or any forensic evidence suggesting foul play, further corroborated by the very fact that the ticket was still on the body, rather than stolen. Even if the ticket had been stolen, it would have done a would-be thief little good. The Michigan Lottery Commission requires that people who win more than $600 must provide both photo ID and their actual, physical social security card, to collect their winnings.

The winning ticket was passed on to Jarvis’ relatives, who may still be able to collect the winnings.

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