Winner was unable to cash ticket before he died
By Kate Northrop
CASEVILLE, Mich. — A Michigan man who was found dead on a private beach never got the chance to cash his winning ticket worth $45,000.
Gregory Jarvis, 57, of Caseville, Michigan was discovered dead Friday morning along the Saginaw Bay in Caseville with a winning lottery ticket still safely tucked away in his wallet.
Jarvis was a frequent customer at the Blue Water Inn in Caseville. The owner of the establishment, Dawn Talaski, described him as a "very nice guy" and that he showed up "everyday."
On Sept. 13, he visited the Blue Water Inn and hit the jackpot in the Club Keno's add-on game "The Jack."
"$45,000. Somebody said someone just won 'The Jack,' and he said, 'great,' and someone asked him, 'was it you?' And it was, so he was super excited," Talaski told WJRT.
However, Jarvis was unable to cash the winning ticket because he needed a new social security card and had to wait for one to arrive in the mail.
"He couldn't cash it because he didn't have a social security card at all," Talaski explained. "It wasn't any good, so he applied for a new one."
A week after the big win, Jarvis was back at the Blue Water Inn buying rounds of drinks, but he still had not yet cashed the winning ticket. When he walked out that night on Sept. 19, it was thought to be the last time anyone would ever see him again.
Talaski knew something did not feel right when one of her most loyal customers did not show up to the bar the next day.
"Sometimes he's up north working," Talaski said in an interview. "He wasn't here all week. And we thought, something is wrong."
She recalled that Jarvis' boss came looking for him the following Wednesday when he did not show up for work. On Friday, the worst was confirmed when a resident was walking along a private beach and discovered a body washed ashore near a boat.
It was Jarvis, and the boat was his.
The resident phoned in the incident to local police, and an autopsy confirmed that he drowned and suffered head injuries.
"We are thinking that he was tying up his boat, slipped and fell, hit his head, and that's where he ended up in the water, no foul play suspected," Caseville Police Chief Kyle Romzek said.
However, police wanted to investigate further when they found a lottery ticket worth $45,000 in his wallet. They asked around and questioned locals to see if there was an alternative motive behind the death.
"At first, we were concerned about it, but after the autopsy, and we interviewed people at the bar — he as well-liked around here," Romzek determined. "He was a nice guy. That took it off the table."
The head injuries that Jarvis maintained were reportedly consistent with hitting his head on the boat before he drowned.
Talaski said that Jarvis had made plans for spending the money.
"He was planning to take that money and go see his sister and dad in North Carolina," she said.
According to the Michigan Lottery, winners of prizes valued at $600 or more must provide photo identification and their social security card to claim their winnings.
Jarvis' relatives, who currently have the ticket in their possession, will be able to collect the winnings.
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