A man found floating in the Cannonball River near the Dakota Access Pipeline on Sunday was identified as 35-year-old DAPL protester Damjan Nedelkovski. Nedelkovski, of Glendale, California, was reported missing by his stepbrother on November 16. His stepbrother filed the missing person report with the Glendale Police Department, although family and friends had been in contact with Nedelkovski after he had left to join the water protectors at the Oceti Sakowin camp near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation on the Cannonball River.
On October 28, Damjan Nedelkovski had been stopped by police in South Dakota. He told the police that he was headed to North Dakota to the pipeline protest camps, police report. The next day, he reportedly had contact with family and friends, but that was the last time he was heard from. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said no foul play is suspected, but some people following the developing story are asking for more answers.
Morton County authorities say that the formal cause of death is still pending. They report that no trauma has been found on Nedelkovski’s body. Law enforcement said that he could have died any time between October 29, 2016 and April 9, 2017. The vehicle that Nedelkovski had rented to drive to North Dakota was found at the Oceti Sakowin camp when it was cleared by authorities on February 23. The vehicle was impounded at that time. Many Inquisitr readers following the progression of events at the water protectors’ camps remember February 23 as the day 46 pipeline protesters were arrested for refusing to leave the camp. The New York Times reported that most of the water protectors had packed up their vehicles and left on February 22, but some left on February 23 by crossing the presumed frozen Cannonball River.
Damjan’s body was found April 9 “near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers, near the site of the Standing Rock encampments,” Native News Online reported.
Police say that they were able to identify the body that had been discovered floating on Sunday by a Republic of Macedonia ID card that was found with the body. Seemingly, it was the only identification on his person, although he had California residency.
The Morton County Sheriff says that due to the condition of the body, they do not believe that Nedelkovski’s case is connected to a police report from October 30 of a potentially drowned body. On October 30, after a report was made to police that someone was presumed drowned in the river, the river was searched, but no body was ever discovered. The Morton County Sheriff speculates that Nedelkovski fell through the ice much more recently. They believe he fell into the river after the weather warmed because he was dressed in a t-shirt and blue jeans, The Bismark Tribune reported. The Morton County Sheriff also said that “the body didn’t have the decomposition to be in the water for a five-month period of time,” according to a Glendale News-Press article.
A cousin of Nedelkovski believes he may have spotted the man in a #NoDAPL protest video that was dated February 2, but the cousin couldn’t be certain. Police subpoenaed Nedelkovski’s credit card usage report, stating that this may help narrow down when he died. They also contacted the authorities with jurisdiction in the town where the rental car is currently located. Investigators want to search the car which was found at the camp in February. It is unclear why this search of the car for property and clues was not completed when the missing man’s rental car was first discovered.
Nedelkovski allegedly joined the water protectors at the camp within 24-hours of The New York Times’ article reporting that the #NoDAPL camp tension had reached a boiling point. Nedelkovski would have been entering the camp the same week that law enforcement dressed in riot gear went up against water protectors.
This suspected arrival time coincided loosely with the dramatic standoff at Backwater Bridge. Around the time Damjan Nedelkovski would have been pulling up to camp in his rental vehicle, 142 protesters would have just been arrested, according to the timeline suggested by the report published in The New York Times.
Nedelkovski originates from Macedonia, and his family and friends in both Eastern Europe and California have already been contacted. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA about eight years ago. He worked for KB Delta, a compressor manufacturing firm near L.A. between 2010 and 2015. His former boss described him as intelligent and said that Nedelkovski had aspirations of working in government. After leaving KB Delta, he worked as an Uber driver. He was reportedly seen at his church, St. Mary’s Macedonian Orthodox Church near Los Angeles, in late October. When Nedelkovski was first reported missing in November, the authorities in California found his apartment empty.
Check back in with the Inquisitr for further updates pertaining to the death of Damjan Nedelkovski, the water protector found dead near the shoreline of the river he was trying to protect.
[Featured Image by Morton County Sheriff’s Department/Facebook]