Missing Hocking River Kayaker Found

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A kayaker who went missing after a group of six went over the White’s Mill falls has been recovered by search crews.

Steve Lippson, 40, was found in the Hocking River at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, about 200 yards downstream from where the incident occurred, according to a spokesperson from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

An OhioHealth O’Bleness Memorial Hospital employee discovered Lippson’s body in the river and alerted authorities from the Athens Fire Department, ODNR, the Athens Police Department, according to the Athens County Emergency Management Agency.

The family has been notified, and the incident is still under investigation. The cause of Lippson’s death is pending an autopsy, according to Stephanie Leis of ODNR.

Lippson, who was from Racine, was swept over the waterfall at about 2 p.m. on Saturday while kayaking with a group of 12. Five others, one of whom was a child, were rescued by emergency responders. The other six kayakers were able to get to the river bank safely and were not swept over the falls.

The search was called off Saturday night as Friday’s heavy rains caused the river levels to be unsafe for searchers. The search continued Sunday morning and had been ongoing until Tuesday.

ODNR had been using side-scan sonar in their search for Lippson, according to Charles Carlson, of the agency.

Carlson said the Hocking River was still rising when the group put their kayaks in the water at the West State ball fields. The river crested at about 6 p.m. Saturday, hours after the kayakers were swept over the falls.

Athens Fire Department ODNR crews recovered Lippson after he was spotted in the water. A life jacket was not recovered.

Also assisting during the search was the Rome Township Volunteer Fire Department’s dive team, the Portsmouth Fire Department, Athens County Emergency Medical Services and the Wellston Fire Department.