Authorities identify body found near Yorktown as that of 23-year-old Wadmalaw woman

Police and rescue squad members await the arrival of a boat carrying a body found Tuesday in the Cooper River near the Yorktown at Patriots Point. The Charleston County Volunteer Rescue Squad van is at the right, with the Yorktown behind it. (Edward C. Fennell/postandcourier.com)

A body found Tuesday in water near Patriots Point was identified as that of a woman who apparently jumped from the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge on Saturday, authorities said.

The body that Charleston police found in the Cooper River was identified as Elizabeth Ashley Ward, 23, of Wadmalaw Island, Charleston County Deputy Coroner Kimberly Rhoton said.

Rhoton said tattoos were instrumental in identifying the body, on which no identification papers were found. An S.C. Highway Patrol trooper found the car Ward was driving abandoned on the bridge about 5:30 a.m. Saturday. The engine was still running but Ward was nowhere around, police spokesman Charles Francis said.

Three days of searching failed to turn up any sign of Ward. Sgt. Chad Womack of the police harbor patrol found the body about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, just in front of the aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point, Francis said.

Charleston and Mount Pleasant police utilized piers and marina space between the naval museum and a waterfront hotel to bring the body to a Charleston County Volunteer Rescue Squad van. Positioned on a pier, the van appeared dwarfed by the much larger aircraft carrier in the background. Behind the Yorktown, loomed the Ravenel Bridge.

Authorities shut down the pier and a portion of the marina while they brought the body ashore and wheeled it to the van. The closing interfered with a practice session for the College of Charleston sailing team, as some team members could not get to their boats.

“It’s a shame, it was perfect weather today,” college senior Sam Stokes said.

The death is under investigation by the coroner’s office and Charleston police.