Dumfries man missing in river

Search divers scoured the Potomac River near Cockpit Point late Thursday night, looking for the body of a 43-year-old Dumfries man presumed drowned while swimming.

Around 5:30 p.m., Steven L. Hoffman had been hanging out on a secluded beach with his two roommates when he decided to swim out to a “duckblind” — a small, shrublike structure left by hunters — more than 200 feet offshore.

His roommate, Lesa Livingston, followed behind him. When Hoffman was halfway to the duckblind, he called out, “I can’t make it back,” according to Livingston.

Shortly after, Hoffman disappeared into the water, she said.

As of 9 p.m., six Prince William County divers were still looking for the body.

Prince William Police Lt. William Cox was unsure how long the search would take, but said work might continue into the night.

Police said the three roommates had been on the beach since 4 p.m., and likely drinking.

“We just came down here for the day,” said Dennis Deeds, Hoffman’s other roommate and good friend.

Livingston said Hoffman, originally from District Heights, Md., didn’t work, but lived off an inheritance he received when his father died.

“He enjoyed drinking beers, sitting around. He liked to garden,” Livingston said.

She described Hoffman as a generous man with a good heart.

“He didn’t have a lot. But he’d give his right arm if he had to,” she said.

He had no wife or children. But he loved his 9-year-old black Labrador, named Duke.

Nearby restaurant owner Tim Bauckman of Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant & Crabhouse said he hasn’t seen anyone drown in the river during the eight years he has run his business. But the accident didn’t surprise him.

“There’s a horrible undertow out there,” Bauckman said.

Staff writer Chris Newmarker can be reached at (703)368-3101, Ext. 119.

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