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Foul play ruled out in Hernando berry picker's death

WEEKI WACHEE — An autopsy conducted Sunday by the Hernando County Medical Examiner's Office has ruled out foul play as a possible cause of death for an unidentified Hispanic man found dead Saturday inside the Chassahowitzka Management Area.

According to a Hernando County Sheriff's Office report, the man, whose identity has not yet been confirmed, was part of a crew from Immokalee that was picking saw palmetto berries in an area west of U.S. 19 just south of the Citrus County line when his co-workers discovered him missing around 7 p.m. Saturday.

Hernando County deputies and Florida fish and wildlife officers searching with all-terrain vehicles found the man's body around 10 p.m. Saturday. Authorities said the man was working by himself in an area known to be populated with rattlesnakes, wasps and yellowjacket nests.

September is a prime month for those who earn money from picking saw palmetto berries, which are sold to herbal medicine companies that use them to make, among other things, treatments for prostate ailments.

The Sheriff's Office said it is working with the Immokalee Coalition for Migrant Workers in Collier County to identify the man. A full autopsy is pending while awaiting toxicology tests.

Foul play ruled out in Hernando berry picker's death 09/13/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 13, 2010 9:48pm]
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