Fraternity brother remembers man who fell into St. Johns River in wheelchair

Gerald Sohn, 84, drowned, police say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An 84-year-old man who drowned Sunday when his wheelchair fell off a dock into the St. Johns River will be remembered by one of his fraternity brothers as a "very smart guy" and a "terrific lawyer."

Police are investigating the circumstances of Gerald Sohn's death, which was categorized as undetermined.

Jacksonville Fire Rescue crews were called to a condominium complex off San Jose and University boulevards in the Lakewood neighborhood just after 2:30 p.m. Sunday after Sohn fell off the dock.

Rescue crews pulled Sohn from the water, but lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful, police said.

News4Jax spoke Monday with Sohn's long-time friend Eddie Siegel.

Siegel said their friendship dated back to 1948 when they were college roommates.

"And then we were fraternity brothers and law school colleagues. So I've known Gerald, really, almost all my life," Siegel said.

Siegel said Sohn was a successful attorney and a generous donor to the University of Florida School of Law, not to mention a loving husband and father.

"He was very well-read, always reading or carrying a book. Very, very smart guy. A terrific lawyer. So, I was really shocked when I heard the news," Siegel said. 

Sohn had been battling Parkinson's disease, Siegel said. 

"At first, it wasn't too bad. He shook a little bit, but he was able to get around. Then gradually, it got worse. He had trouble walking -- shuffling and losing his balance sometimes. So it got worse and worse, and it did affect his speech," Siegel said. 

Now, Siegel said he just hopes Sohn's family can find peace.

The Sheriff's Office continues to investigate.