The body of a Meigs County man, who drowned in a kayaking accident in the Hocking River at Athens last weekend, was recovered early Tuesday morning, July 11.
At approximately 6:40 a.m. Tuesday, the body of 40-year-old-missing kayaker, Steve Lippson, from Racine, Ohio was discovered by an O'Bleness Memorial Hospital employee in the Hocking River. Mr. Lippson's body was recovered at 7:30 a.m. by the Athens Fire Department, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Athens Police Department, and the Athens County Coroner's Office.
Initially, the Athens Fire Department and Athens Police Department responded just after 2 p.m. Saturday, July 8, to the area just below the waterfalls at White's Mill where 12 persons had been kayaking above the waterfalls. Six kayakers were swept over the waterfalls and five of those kayakers were rescued by emergency responders or rescued themselves from the water. However, Lippson remained missing and was presumed drowned.
Regional responders, including six members of the Wellston Fire Department's (WFD) Water Rescue Team, spent the Saturday afternoon and evening searching the Hocking River for the missing kayaker before calling off the search at 9:15 p.m. The search was resumed Sunday, but was unsuccessful. The WFD Water Rescue Team was also was part of the recovery effort on Sunday, but not since that time.
The Hocking River has been swollen by recent heavy rainfall in the region. The investigation and recovery operation was under the command of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The Athens Fire Department would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance during this incident: Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Rome Township VFD Dive team, Portsmouth Fire Department, Athens County EMA, Athens County EMS, Athens Police Department, and the Wellston Fire Department Water Rescue Team.