UPDATE: (12:00 p.m. Friday, April 8) – Authorities have identified the body found in the Hocking River, Wednesday, March 30.

On Thursday, April 7, the Athens County Coroner told law enforcement the body had been positively identified as Derek Johnson, 39, of Nelsonville.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith says Johnson was reported missing on Jan. 25, 2022 and had last been seen near his home on Laurel Run Road in Hocking County.


ATHENS COUNTY, OH (WOWK) — Two kayakers on the Hocking River found a body near Nelsonville on Wednesday around 3:45 p.m., according to the Athens County Sheriff’s Office.

“Deputies arrived in the area off State Route 278 at the bottom of Lick Run Hill, just outside Nelsonville and located a deceased male on a sand bar in the river,” Sheriff Rodney Smith said.

Deputies from Hocking and Athens counties responded, as the body was found near the county line.

The Sheriff’s Office said deputies could not identify the body due to exposure of natural elements. However, it was determined that the deceased was a male.

The Athens County Coroner’s Office responded and ordered an autopsy, which will be conducted at the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

“The investigation remains ongoing, and no further details will be released at this time,” Sheriff Smith said.

Responding units include the Athens County Sheriff’s Office, Hocking County Sheriff’s Office, Hocking County 911, York Township Fire Department, York Township Box 5, Athens County 911 and Athens County Coroner’s Office.