HANCOCK COUNTY -- An Iraq War veteran found dead on Dec. 27 in a small body of water in the Lakeshore community accidentally drowned, an official said.
Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk said on Saturday that the official autopsy shows the death of Alex Toups, 27, was ruled an accidental drowning.
Toups and a friend had been hanging out in the area on the night of Dec. 26, said Don Bass of the Hancock County Sheriff's Office. The friend went to sleep, woke up and thought Toups had gone home, he said.
Teenagers shooting guns in the marsh area the next day noticed the body about 4:30 p.m.
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Faulk and other first responders gathered at the scene and began to recover the body about 7 p.m.
Friends of Toups said he was active-duty infantry member in the Army who had served in Iraq.
Many Hancock High School alumni took to social media to share shock and dismay when they heard about Toups' death. He grew up in Hancock County and graduated from Hancock High School in 2005. He enlisted in the U.S. Army after high school and was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., with the 82nd Airborne Infantry, former roommate Jeremy Moore told the Sun Herald in December. "He loved being a soldier, every part about it," Moore said. As was typical in the military, most of his friends called him by his last name, even those back home. Sun Herald reporter Robin Fitzgerald contributed to this report.