Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Storms, equipment trouble delay search for rafter from Tampa

TAMPA — Citing equipment problems and bad weather, crews called off search efforts Monday for the body of a Tampa man who died last week on a white-water rafting trip in South Carolina.

The search was expected to resume this morning.

A recovery crew including a dive team and dozens of first responders has been scouring the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River for the body of Thomas P. Hill since Wednesday, when the 50-year-old fell off a raft about 100 miles west of Greenville near the Georgia state line, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Hill, a sales manager for Sherwin-Williams and a father of four, had been rafting on a corporate retreat, according to a company spokesman.

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service said they had searched the river with a dive team, sonar and an underwater camera.

"We had some challenges today," incident commander Scott Loftis said in a statement. "We are bringing in additional equipment and watching the weather forecast tonight to ensure safe and efficient operations tomorrow."

Hill was one of seven people on the raft, according to the U.S. Forest Service. He and several others, including the boat's guide, fell off the raft after it encountered rough water. All surfaced except for Hill, who officials believe was caught by rocks and drowned.

Search crews spotted Hill's body late Thursday, but water levels were too high to recover it, according to officials. River currents moved the body Friday, and crews were unable to find it.

Drowning deaths on the Chattooga have been infrequent. A 58-year-old Nashville man died a year ago, and his death came nine years after the previous drowning on the river, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

Southeastern Guides, the white-water operator for Hill's trip, has seemingly been cleared of wrongdoing and is assisting in the recovery.

"As far as we know, they were operating within safety guidelines," U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Michelle Burnett said last weekend.

Storms, equipment trouble delay search for rafter from Tampa 06/23/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 24, 2013 9:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards


    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 


  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say


    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.