ANSTED, WV (WVNS) — A United States Air Force Colonel stationed at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Greene County who reportedly drowned while on vacation in West Virginia Monday has died.

The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Chief of Engagements has confirmed the victim of the accident was 46-year-old Col. John Catoe from Ohio. He was the commander of the 88th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, 88th Medical Group

According to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, the accident happened on the lower Gauley in West Virginia at a class four rapid called Stairsteps.

Col. Catoe was actively serving in the United States Air Force when the accident happened during a commercial river trip.

West Virginia officials are investigating the cause of death as a possible drowning. No further information has been provided at this time.

Since May, as commander of the 88th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, Catoe led a team of more than 250 Airmen and oversaw ten medical specialties in eight flights – aerospace operational medicine, warrior operational medicine, mental health, bioenvironmental engineering, public health, optometry, physical medicine and health promotion.

Prior to the 88th Medical Group, he served as the Director of Medical Research, Airman Systems Directorate and Deputy Chief of Airmen Biosciences Division at the 711th Human Performance Wing also at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  

“Team Wright-Patt lost a great leader this week,” said Col. Christopher Meeker, 88th Air Base Wing and Installation commander. “John was a highly skilled professional who loved his Airmen. The collective heart of team Wright-Patt goes out to his wife Maggie and their children during this difficult time.” 

A memorial service to celebrate the life and service of Col. Catoe will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 9 a.m. at the Wright-Patterson Club located in Area A, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The service will also be streamed on the 88th Medical Group Facebook page.

Stay with 2 NEWS as this story develops.