Missing CDC employee drowned

Timothy Cunningham a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employee

Timothy Cunningham a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employee

On Tuesday night, fishermen called 911 after discovering a body in the river. The location of the gruesome discovery is about 400 yards upstream from a bridge, just east of the Atlanta Public Safety Annex, officials said.

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Cunningham, who was known to collect rocks, was found with crystals in his pocket and wearing running shoes.

The investigation is still under way, so the manner of death has not been determined, the medical examiner said.

Timothy Cunningham, 25, an epidemiologist at the CDC, was found in Chattahoochee River late Tuesday after he went missing on February 12, Atlanta Police Department spokesman Carlos Campos announced Thursday. Colleagues said he left after feeling unwell. His parents, Tia and Terrell Cunningham later visited his home after not being able to reach him and found his belongings inside his residence.

This is a breaking story.

According to Major Michael O'Connor, with the Major Crimes Section of the Atlanta Police Department, the river is not far from Cunningham's home.

He was reportedly working as a commander in the U.S. Public Health Service and had responded to the Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks. He earned a spot past year in the Atlanta Business Chronicle's 40 Under 40 list, a who's who of the city's young standouts. Stafford said that rescue crews had to use boats and special equipment to reach Cunningham's body because it was located in hard terrain in a "remote area not easily accessible". He held a master's degree and a doctorate from Harvard's School of Public Health.

Cunningham's parents drove overnight from Maryland to Atlanta.

In the days before Cunningham's disappearance, a neighbor had reported that he was acting odd.

Almost two weeks later, the CDC said that information was untrue. In a statement, the CDC said Cunningham received an "exceptional proficiency promotion" July 1 to the position of commander, an early promotion reflecting his excellence as an employee.

The agency also closed with a message to Cunningham directly.

"If Tim reads this message, we hope you come home soon", she wrote. They believe that he drowned and no foul play was at hand, PEOPLE reports.

"Our information came directly from the CDC".

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