Tampa rafter's body still missing in S.C. river - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa rafter's body still missing in S.C. river

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Still image from video provided by WSPA-TV Still image from video provided by WSPA-TV

Search and rescue crews were unable to recover the body of a Tampa man from a South Carolina river Friday, after he apparently drowned during a rafting trip two days earlier.

Thomas Patrick Hill, 51 of Tampa, was on a corporate retreat on the Chattooga River, when he fell off a white-water raft Wednesday afternoon and never resurfaced.

"The Sherwin-Williams family is deeply saddened and mourns the loss of Tom Hill," said a spokesman for the paint company. "Tom, a 27 year veteran from our Tampa, FL district, was a valued member of the Sherwin-Williams team and contributed significantly to the company's success. Tom will be greatly missed."

Hill leaves behind a wife named Linda and four children.

The company spokesperson says Sherwin-Williams is working closely with investigators to determine the details surrounding the accident. Investigators say Hill was on a guided tour with Southeastern Expeditions.

"The guide on this tour had 5 years experience, a veteran guide, the trip leader had 20 years experience and the safety boater had 20 years experience," said Larry Mashburn of Southeastern Expeditions.

WFLA's sister station WSPA-TV reports that all rafters were wearing life jackets and helmets.

The current is strong around the Class 5 rapids and water levels are high. Crews are having a tough time recovering Hill's body and had to stop for the night. Operations will start again Saturday morning.

"The river current appears to have moved Mr. Hill's body away from its original location," said Incident Commander Scott Loftis. "Tomorrow we'll be doing camera work to try to locate him."

Crews will continue to work from the river banks and a tethered raft. River flows are expected to be too high tomorrow for dive operations.

Information from WSPA-TV helped comprise this report.

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