Family says Springfield man’s death at Clifton Gorge was an accident

The death of a Springfield man whose body was found in the river at Clifton Gorge Tuesday is still under investigation, but a family member of the man said they’ve been informed that it appears to be an accident.

Michael Fowler lived his entire life in Springfield and was self-employed as a painter, according to his brother, Rich Fowler.

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Emergency personnel recovered the 65-year-old’s body from the Little Miami River at Clifton Gorge on Tuesday after a passerby spotted it in the water. The death remains under investigation by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Greene County Coroner’s Office.

Rich Fowler said his brother enjoyed the outdoors and frequently visited public parks in his leisure time. He said an investigator informed him that his brother’s death was the result of an accidental fall.

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“He liked parks and being outside,” Rich Fowler said. “He had probably been down there (Clifton Gorge) many times. He had gotten down the steps and slipped on a rock and fell down the hill and into the water.”

He said officials investigating his brother’s death told him that.

(Jim Noelker/Staff)

According to the coroner’s office, preliminary findings for cause and manner of death have not been determined. Coroner’s Office Administrator Bill Harden said his office has not communicated to the family any of their findings at this point in the investigation.

At the scene on Tuesday, Miami Twp. fire officials were not certain whether the death was the result of an accident, but Chief Colin Altman left that possibility open, indicating hiking in that area when there’s ice on the trail can be dangerous. 

"People like to come out here in the winter," Altman said. "We try to keep everybody from walking in the woods when it's icy like this."

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