Santa Rosa city workers searching Monday morning for the source of a bad smell found a decomposed body of a man in a downtown storm drain.

A complaint about the smell prompted Monday’s search. Public works employees could see the body down below after popping open a manhole cover in the middle of D Street near First Street, on the edge of the City Hall parking lot. They reported the gruesome finding at 11:24 a.m., bringing several police officers and firefighters to investigate and remove the body.

The streets were closed to traffic for about two hours. Firefighters positioned a ladder truck near the drain to hoist out the unidentified remains.

The noxious smell began to permeate the air as workers prepared for the retrieval.

Some area workers and passersby came by to see what was happening, but covered their noses and quickly backed away.

Before the body could be moved, the air and environment in the drain was tested to make sure it wasn’t hazardous, said Santa Rosa fire Battalion Chief Mark Basque, who supervised.

A Sonoma County Coroner’s investigator in full protective gear and breathing mask then went down to the body and documented evidence to help with the death investigation. He was followed by veteran firefighter Don Ricci, also in full protective gear and mask, who went down to bag the body and prepare it for removal, Basque said.

The death appeared to be a suicide but that determination was being made by the Coroner’s Office, authorities said. The man’s name wasn’t available Monday afternoon.

A person could get to that spot in the drain through nearby tunnels connecting to area creeks, Basque said.

The body was recovered at 1:32 p.m.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707-521-5412 or On Twitter@rossmannreport.

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