Body of Missing Tahoe Boater Recovered

Authorities have recovered the body of a man who fell off a sailboat and presumably drowned at Lake Tahoe.

Rick Hixenbaugh, 54, was teaching others how to sail when he fell off the boat into the frigid choppy waters on Sunday, authorities said.

A wave struck the boat as it entered the channel to Tahoe Keys Marina and Hixenbaugh was thrown into the 42-degree water, authorities said.

A life jacket was tossed close to him by his daughter, Chrystal, who dove in the water in a rescue attempt.

Witnesses say she got her hands on him but was unable to keep him at the surface.

Hixenbaugh's body was recovered by search crews Monday afternoon. An autopsy was pending.

Family and friends said Hixenbaugh lived in South Lake Tahoe for 30 years as a family man with a wife of 26 years and three children. He was a contractor, running a business specializing in remodeling that he used to infuse his creative talents.

"He has so many friends," said his wife, Linda. "A lot of people know Rick."

"He was all about taking care of us," Linda said.

The Hixenbaugh house was decorated with Rick's paintings in oils, watercolors and acrylics. He would read several books at a time and recently reveled in a bounty of classic books purchased at a garage sale, Linda said.

Gregg Waugh, a family friend, said Hixenbaugh was athletic and a good swimmer.

"I don't get it," he said. "He could have swam in. He was a good athlete."

The victim's wife wondered whether he had hit his head or had a heart attack during the fall because he didn't swim or move toward the life jacket.

"It just wasn't like him," Linda Hixenbaugh said. "Something was wrong."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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