Trans Woman Found at Bronx’s Orchard Beach Drowned

Elie Che
Elie Che, 23, drowned by accident at Orchard Beach on August 31, and the medical examiner said there were no signs of trauma or struggle.

The 23-year-old transgender woman who was found dead at Orchard Beach on August 31 accidentally drowned, the city medical examiner told Gay City News on September 4.

Elie Che, who lived in London before moving to New York City, was found shortly after 6 a.m. on Monday morning when police officers found them unconscious and unresponsive in the sand. EMS responders rushed to the scene, where they pronounced them dead.

Days later, the medical examiner declared Che’s cause of death to be accidental drowning at the beach, which sits at the base of Pelham Bay on the east side of the the Bronx. There were no signs or indications of trauma or struggle, according to officials.

It is not clear when Che, who was living in Manhattan, died or how they drowned. Further details surrounding the circumstances of their death remain unclear.

While the medical examiner referred to Che as Ellie Williams — and the initial police report deadnamed them — they went by the name Elie Che on the GoFundMe page they created as well as on social media platforms like Instagram. They described themself as a Black transgener woman. An individual who identified as a friend of Che contacted Gay City News to say Che used the pronoun they/ them.

Che created a GoFundMe page in July in a plea for help as they struggled to survive financially. They wrote about their experiences navigating life as a Black transgender woman and the employment discrimination they faced, as well as the hardship they endured during the coronavirus pandemic.

Che had more than 4,000 followers on Instagram, where they most recently posted photos of themselves in Harlem on August 21.

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