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John Shoop, 74, went missing from his boat on Smith Mountain Lake.
Monday, August 5, 2013
The search for a Richmond man who likely drowned at Smith Mountain Lake on Friday continued through Sunday afternoon, as crews worked to bring closure to the victim's family.
John Shoop, 74, disappeared from a small sailboat shortly after 5:30 p.m. on Friday near the R2 channel marker on the lake in Huddleston, said Sgt. Bryan Young with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Shoop was alone on the boat, but family and friends were nearby on another craft. They looked away for just a few minutes, and he was gone.
"He was there one moment, and not the next," Young said.
Shoop was not wearing a life vest. Officials are still trying to determine how he may have fallen off the boat, but they're investigating the possibility that a medical condition contributed to the incident.
A VDGIF dive team spent Saturday and Sunday morning at the scene, but was stymied by hazardous debris and water depths between 160 and 180 feet. Crews are using side-scanning sonar and are searching from boats and the shoreline.
If the sonar does find Shoop's body, officials may have to call in a specialized dive team to retrieve it, Young said , because it may be too far down for VDGIF crews to reach .
As the search stretched into Sunday afternoon, officials said they won't give up until they complete the recovery.
"The longer it takes, the harder it is on the family," Conservation Police Supervisor Karl Martin said. "Their closure is as important to them as it is to us. We are going to use whatever resources we have to see that they have it as soon as possible."
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