Search crews have recovered the body of a Tennessee man who had been missing since Saturday after a rafting accident on the Chattooga River.
Crews renewed their search Tuesday morning about 6 a.m. for the body of a 58-year-old Michael Dorris of Nashville, who was presumed drowned when the commercial rafting tour he was on overturned with seven others onboard at the Jaw Bone Rapid.
Oconee County Emergency Management fire chief Charlie King said crews used a camera to locate him and found Dorris about 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Once Dorris was located, it took crews until about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday to recover his body. King said he was trapped in a hydraulic area, caught under Allison's Rock in the Five Falls area upstream of Tugaloo Lake.
King said it was a tough position to extricate him from because crews could only carry so many tools down the river at a time, so they tried various methods to get his body out.
When the raft overturned near Long Creek, all eight people, including Dorris' wife and grandson, were thrown from the raft, but the others were able to get back in.
Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said the victim continued to float downstream, wearing a life jacket and helmet. He was last seen dipping below the water and was presumed to have drowned.
Addis said an autopsy determined that Dorris died from a laceration of the spinal cord due to blunt-force trauma caused by the accident. He said the spinal cord injury would have prevented him from swimming or reaching for the ropes thrown at him.
Rescuers said the rising river, because of rain earlier in the week, hampered the search and recovery.
Recovery operations began again on Wednesday about 6 a.m. About 30 people are involved in the effort from Oconee, Rabun, Habersham, Pickens, Anderson, and Greenville counties.
The guided rafting trip was run by Wildwater Ltd., which is a family-owned business headquartered in Long Creek and was founded in 1971. They offer whitewater rafting on the Chattooga, the Ocoee, the Nantahala, and the Pigeon rivers.
Wildwater's CEO Jack Wise released the following statement on behalf of his company following the fatal accident:
"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victim and his family. The entire Wildwater Team thanks everyone in the community for their support and help during this difficult time. A heartfelt thanks to the family, first responders, rescue teams, countless agencies, businesses and an army of volunteers who have provided support in so many ways."
Together, Oconee County Emergency Services, Rabun County Emergency Services, Habersham County Technical Rescue Team, Greenville County Emergency Response Team, SC Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (SCHART), Anderson County Sheriff's Office, Pickens County Water Rescue Team, Wildwater Ltd., Southeastern Expeditions, Nantahala Outdoor Center and the U.S. Forest Service are involved in the recovery.
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Tuesday, May 21 2013 2:01 AM EDT2013-05-21 06:01:07 GMT
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