110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted Jul 9, 2013 - 4:04:32pm
In June, The Beacon reported the story of Thomas Patrick Hill, who hailed originally from the Pierson area and was a graduate of T. DeWitt Taylor High School in Pierson. He was the son of the late coach Tom Hill, who was also a principal at the school.
Hill lived in Tampa.
Last month, he was on a corporate retreat that included a rafting tour on the Chattooga River in Oconee County, S.C., with other members of the Sherwin-Williams Co. in Tampa, where he was a manager and had worked for 27 years. He fell overboard in the "Sock 'Em Dog" rapids June 19.
Three other rafters went in the water in an effort to save Hill, but they were unable to find him, his sister Nancy told The Beacon.
Rescue and recovery crews spent days trying to locate and pull his body from the river. They were up against dangerous conditions and bad weather.
Searchers spotted Hill's body at least twice, caught on rocks or trees, but were unable to reach it because of foul weather and high, rough river waters.
Finally, on Friday, July 5, a team was able to pull Hill's body from the water, South Carolina news sources reported.
"We believe that high flows on the Chattooga Wild and Scenic river freed Mr. Hill's body so that he could begin his journey home to his family," Forest Service spokeswoman Michelle Burnett said. "Mr. Hill's family has been foremost in our minds, and our hearts go out to Mr. Hill's wife and children. We hope that our efforts will finally bring some closure to the Hill family."
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