Monday, June 25, 2018
Public safety

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.

Comments
Tampa man faces murder charge in hit-and-run that killed father during family bike ride

Tampa man faces murder charge in hit-and-run that killed father during family bike ride

TAMPA — A Tampa man faces charges , including premeditated first-degree murder, following his arrest Sunday night in a hit-and-run that killed a father and left his 3-year-old son seriously injured while on a family bike ride earlier in the afternoon...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Father dead, suspect in custody after hit-and-run driver plows into New Tampa family on bike ride

Father dead, suspect in custody after hit-and-run driver plows into New Tampa family on bike ride

A Tampa man is dead and his 3-year-old son is in serious condition after being struck by a hit-and-run driver as they went on a family bike ride Sunday afternoon.A male suspect is in custody and being interviewed by police but his name has not yet be...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

ST. PETERSBURGSuspect dead, 2 injured in home invasion, shootingThree people forced their way into a St. Petersburg house before dawn Sunday before gunfire broke out, killing a suspect and injuring two residents, police said.About 5:30 a.m., the peop...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 19-year-old driver died in a three-car crash on Moon Lake Road on Saturday afternoon, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.Jillian Faith Hitt, 19 and of New Port Richey, was driving north on the road in a 2008 Hyundai Accent, weari...
Published: 06/24/18
Police: St. Petersburg driver falls asleep at wheel after drinking, kills motorcyclist

Police: St. Petersburg driver falls asleep at wheel after drinking, kills motorcyclist

ST. PETERSBURG — A 22-year-old driver fell asleep at the wheel after drinking and ran a red light, hitting and killing a motorcyclist Saturday night, police said.Just before midnight, Michael P. Majchrowski, 48, was riding a 2016 BMW motorcycle eastb...
Published: 06/24/18
Authorities find

Authorities find "inmate" who walked away from Bilirakis event

The 23-year-old man who authorities said walked away from a New Port Richey political event while under supervision of a treatment center on Saturday has been located.The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office described Nicholas Moore, 23, as both an "inmate"...
Published: 06/23/18
FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

A Clearwater man who authorities said sideswiped a car while driving more than 100 miles per hour the wrong way on U.S. 41 was arrested Friday. Wendel Jamel James, 35, is charged with DUI with property damage, reckless driving and leaving the scene ...
Published: 06/23/18
Tampa boy, 14, shot, police asking for help

Tampa boy, 14, shot, police asking for help

TAMPA — Police want to know who shot 14-year-old De’Nico Thomas after a night of playing video games.Thomas was at a friend’s home Wednesday night and on his way home when Tampa police said he was shot, resulting in life-threatening injuries.As he fa...
Published: 06/22/18
Updated: 06/24/18
Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

CLEARWATER — Police detectives are searching for a man coined the "Bic Bandit" based on reports that he’s stolen dozens of lighters from the same 7-Eleven.According to Clearwater police, the man has swiped the lighters four times in the last month, t...
Published: 06/22/18
FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

DADE CITY — A Dade City man was killed and three others were seriously injured after a pickup truck and motorcycle crashed head-on Friday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Floyd Williamson, 72, of Lakeland, was driving northbound on U....
Published: 06/22/18