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Norwalk Police Identify Man Who Died in River

NORWALK, Conn. – A man who was found floating in the Five Mile River on Saturday has been identified as Edward Lee Denson, 45. Norwalk Police Officer Carlton Giles did not have an address for Denson, who was pronounced dead at Norwalk Hospital after an effort to resuscitate him.

Denson was arrested Dec. 6 by Greenwich police, Greenwich Lt. Kraig Gray confirmed. He had broken into a Byram Park pool house to sleep and stole a stereo and several other items, police said.

He was spotted floating face down in the water of RiverPark, on Connecticut Avenue at the Darien-Norwalk line, by a father walking with his two children, Sgt. James Boff said. The area was first treated as a crime scene, Norwalk Fire Deputy Chief Stephen Shay said. But the father said the body had been in the water for only 20 minutes. "It's within the time frame where resuscitation is possible, especially in cold water," Shay said. "We pulled him out, he had no rigor mortis, and we started CPR."

Shay said that with the initial shock of cold water the body reacts by keeping blood near the brain and vital organs. There is a process that medical personnel go through in the event of cold-water drownings. Denson was on a respirator for hours as personnel slowly warmed his body. The goal is to keep cold blood away from the heart.

The procedure worked a little more than a year ago on a 68-year-old man pulled from the water at Cove Marina. "He's doing fine now," Shay said.

But it did not work on Denson.

Shay said a shopping cart was near the body, with cans and bottles in it. He said, "It looked like he reached over to get cans and bottle and fell in."

Gray said Denson told Greenwich officers he was homeless and had been staying in the pool house. He had been seen urinating in a public park and was charged with burglary, criminal trespass and criminal mischief after police investigated and found that items had been reported missing from the pool house.

Greenwich police have had many contacts with Denson, Gray said, dating to 1994. "He doesn't have huge arrest record with us, but a large contact record, many medical calls and other things," he said. Denson most often gave a New London address but was also known to say he lived in Norwalk and Stamford.

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