Woodward, a rising senior at the University of Georgia, was spending the summer in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. While rafting on the Snake River with five friends, none of whom were wearing life jackets, he and another rafter were thrown from the raft. His friend was OK but Woodward went missing and a search ensued. His body was found by a kayaker July 12.
Woodward’s death was ruled accidental drowning, according to Lincoln County Deputy Coroner Maryanne Christensen, and his body was identified through dental records.
“The University of Georgia is deeply saddened by the tragic death of a student member of our community, Oliver Woodward,” UGA spokesman Greg Trevor said. “We extend our sincere sympathy, thoughts and prayers to the Woodward family in this time of need.”
In an emailed letter to Holy Innocents’ faculty and staff members, Head of School Paul Barton said Woodward will be “remembered by all for his patented smile, his good demeanor and his laid-back, happy approach to life.”
In the letter, Daniel Forrester, the school’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art/design and math) director, who was one Woodward’s varsity football coaches, recalled his playing days.
“He wasn’t the fastest or the slowest back we’ve ever had, but he was the best blocking back for sure,” Forrester said. “I think that says a lot about what he felt about his teammates – he always enjoyed when they did well because of his block. He had a great sense of humor and knew just when to lighten the mood. He is honestly one of my favorite players I have ever coached.”
Funeral services for Woodward have not been announced yet.
It's the outcome his family feared from the moment he went missing.
TETON COUNTY, Wy. -- Authorities in Wyoming confirm they have found the body of a University of Georgia student who went missing while rafting on a river.
Oliver Woodward, 21, was rafting with a group on the Snake River south of Hoback Junction on July 4, authorities said. While going through rapids called the "Kings Wave," Woodward and another person were reportedly ejected from the raft.
The Teton County Wyoming Sheriff's Office were able to find one of the two. However, officials were not able to find Woodward, who they said was not wearing a life jacket.