Recovery efforts on Chattooga River halted - FOX Carolina 21

Recovery efforts on Chattooga River halted

Posted: Updated: June 24, 2013 02:36 PM
Crews work to recover the rafter's body along the Chattooga River. (June 22, 2013/U.S. Forest Service) Crews work to recover the rafter's body along the Chattooga River. (June 22, 2013/U.S. Forest Service)

Efforts were halted along the Chattooga River to recover the body of a missing Florida man out of the water due to weather and technical issues on Monday.

Since last week, crews have been working to recover the body of Thomas Hill, 50, who disappeared during a rafting trip Wednesday. He was located on Thursday, but they couldn't reach him due to rough waters.

Michelle Burnett, spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service said Hill was rafting as part of a corporate trip with Sherwin-Williams.

On Saturday, crews said his body had moved from that spot. Crews also experienced equipment problems, causing them to call off their search early Saturday afternoon.

Rescue teams spent more than six hours Sunday ruling out several locations on the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River for the body.

Officials said rescue operations began again Monday but because of the weather, an aerial search with the help of the Greenville County Sheriff's Office was delayed. The search was then called off by 2:30 p.m. because of weather in the area and equipment problems.

"We are bringing in additional equipment and watching the weather forecast tonight to ensure safe and efficient operations tomorrow," said Incident Commander Scott Loftis.

A search dog team was also planning to work along the trails and shorelines while crews from Oconee, Anderson, Pickens and Rabun counties, as well as Clemson University and commercial outfitter guides are participating in on-river operations, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The U.S. Forest Service, American Red Cross and Sherwin-Williams continue to support the effort, which has had help from more than 200 people and no one has been injured during the operation.

"The team continues to work in dangerous conditions today to find Mr. Hill," said Loftis. "Safety has been our number one objective throughout the mission and it's a credit to the folks out there that the more than 200 people involved have not suffered any injuries."

The Forest Service said paddlers no longer have to get out and walk their boats by the Sockem Dog Rapids area though they may experience delays as the recovery continues.

Recovery efforts are scheduled to begin again Tuesday at 7 a.m.

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