Body of Missing Ben Nelson Aide Found in Nebraska Park

Posted February 10, 2004 at 9:54am

Following an extensive search, emergency officials in McCook, Neb., located the body of an aide to Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D) in a park pond Monday afternoon.

Scott Hoffman, who served as staff assistant in Nelson’s McCook district office, was reported missing Sunday evening by an acquaintance who had located Hoffman’s vehicle and one of his dogs at a local park, according to a statement issued by the McCook Police Department.

Officials from the McCook Fire Department, Red Willow County Sheriff’s Office, Nebraska State Patrol and a dozen other agencies initiated a massive search Sunday night using a thermal imaging camera, search dogs and patrol aircraft. Approximately 230 volunteers participated in the search, conducted on foot and with all-terrain vehicles, 4x4s and horses.

A dive team located Hoffman’s body in a pond in Barnett Park when the search resumed Monday at 7 a.m.

According to an Associated Press report, Hoffman may have tried to pursue his dogs if they were chasing geese onto thin ice on the pond.

“The preliminary investigation did not reveal any indication of foul play, however, the investigation into this incident will continue until [a] final determination can be made as to the cause of death,” the McCook Police Department release states.

Hoffman is survived by his wife, Darcey, two sons, Christian and Stephen, and his daughter, Danae.

“Scott was a devoted family man, a dedicated public servant and a true friend. Scott seemed to always have his finger on the pulse of Southwest Nebraska. There isn’t a community or a cause that isn’t familiar with Scott’s work advocating for the entire region,” Nelson said in a statement.

“Scott was a good friend to many in the McCook area and across Nebraska, including me, Diane and everyone on my staff. He will be missed and remembered fondly by all who knew him, especially those of us who had the pleasure of working with him. Personally, I am going to miss his advice, his hard work on behalf of Southwest Nebraska, and most of all, the friendship I was so fortunate to share with him. He will be deeply missed by all of us.”