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Missing Russian River rafter found after night lost along river

Lost overnight along the Russian River after a day of floating on a tube with friends, a Glen Ellen man was found holding onto a tree and standing in chest-high water.

About 7:30 a.m. on July 7, Bill Hoeffer, 75, was found about three feet from shore, clinging to the tree, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

Hoeffer was cold and had been out all night wearing only board shorts and sandals. He was taken to a hospital with possible hypothermia but was in good spirits, authorities said.

He’d been staying with friends in the area and Saturday morning they’d gone to Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville and started a river float on tubes. After sundown they stopped near Monte Rio but became separated as they climbed up through the brush.

The friends searched for a few hours and at about 10 p.m. called for help, launching deputies and the sheriff’s helicopter crew. About 3:30 a.m., members of the sheriff’s volunteer search team joined the effort, officials said.

After dawn, Hoeffler was spotted in the river. Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman went in and pulled him from the water. Firefighters and paramedics started heat packs and he was taken to a local hospital.

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