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Missing BC student may have accidentally drowned

A preliminary autopsy suggests that Franco Garcia, the missing Boston College student whose body was found Wednesday in the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, died in an accidental drowning, Suffolk prosecutors said Thursday.

But a State Police spokesman said detectives are continuing to investigate and have not ruled out foul play.

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“The detectives are still working other investigative avenues,’’ said State Police spokesman David Procopio. “We owe that to the Garcia family, to find answers to the question of what happened in his final hours.’’

A preliminary examination by state pathologists found that Garcia’s body did not have any “broken bones or other significant injury.’’ Those findings “are consistent with an accidental fall into the water,’’ District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said in a statement.

Jake Wark, a spokesman for Conley, said a wallet with cash was found in Garcia’s clothing.

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The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will not make an official ruling on the cause of death until more toxicology tests are completed. Some of those tests were requested by Garcia’s family, Wark said.

“My understanding is that the family wished for some additional tests to be done, and the medical examiner’s office intends to accommodate those requests,’’ Wark said.

Garcia, a 21-year-old junior in the Woods College of Advancing Studies, was last seen leaving Mary Ann’s bar in Cleveland Circle bar about 12:15 a.m. on Feb. 22. The Newton resident, who worked at a CVS Pharmacy in Waltham, apparently was heading back to the BC campus where his car was parked, a walk that would take him past the reservoir.

An ATM surveillance camera captured an image of him walking by shortly afterward, seemingly unharmed and unworried.

When his body was recovered, Garcia was wearing the same clothes he was wearing when he was last seen, a button-down shirt and jeans. He had left his coat at the bar.

Procopio said detectives have not yet ruled Garcia’s death an accident. He said officials do not know why Garcia’s body was not discovered when police searched the reservoir for four days in late February. During that time, about 10 divers rotated in and out of the water daily, he said.

Officials also used sonar in the search, and a State Police helicopter searched the reservoir from overhead. Poor visibility, silt, and weeds growing several feet high probably prevented divers from finding Garcia’s body.

“It’s a large body of water, and unfortunately, underwater search is not an exact science,’’ Procopio said. “It was really tough conditions, and they were tireless in their efforts.’’

The divers who removed Garcia’s body from the water Wednesday were among those who had searched for him in February.

“We would have given anything for a different outcome,’’ Procopio said.

Detectives still urge anyone with information about what Garcia was doing in the early-morning hours of Feb. 22 to call 617-727-8817, ext. 1, or Boston College police at 617-552-4000.

Martine Powers can be reached at mpowers@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.
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