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Virginia authorities suspend search for missing Hopatcong man due to weather

HOPATCONG BOROUGH, NJ (Sussex County) – Authorities in Page County, Va. have suspend the search of Edward Piccola due to the weather forecast that predicts areas of heavy rain through the weekend with possible flash flooding with a river flow rise.

Piccola went missing on May 30 and was last seen at Krogh’s Restaurant & Brew Pub in Sparta Township.

Investigators were able to observe Piccola on security video footage at the Luray Wal-Mart on May 31 at around 9:30 p.m. He purchased a blue Sun Dolphin Phoenix 10.4 sit in Kayak, a blue life vest, a small set of camping cookware, a poncho, whistle, water filter and a fire starter. He was also observed in the Luray 7-11 off of U.S. Hwy 211 West around 10:00 p.m. purchasing cigarettes. This was the last known activity of Piccola. Investigators have searched cell phone records and other digital records with no success.

The recent rainfall in the Page County and surrounding areas, has led to river levels being at or near 15 feet above normal. River conditions have reached nearly 30,000 cubic feet per second during the height of the flooding.

Over the past few days, searchers have used helicopters, drones, UTV’s, ATV’s, K-9’s, Boats, Kayaks, and ground searchers to search the area of the Shenandoah River from the Low Water Bridge to the Warren County Line and beyond. The river remains above normal level flow and very low in clarity. This has hindered search efforts and visibility in to the water. Air scent dogs were deployed in boats and on foot, in and along the Shenandoah River with negative results. A bloodhound was utilized to search the area around where the car was located with negative results. Helicopters and Drones were utilized to conduct air searches along the river and riverbanks from Low Water Bridge to the Warren County line and beyond. Kayaks and boat teams conducted multiple searches along the west bank and the east bank of the Shenandoah River, checking log jams, backwashes and other tributaries that dump into the Shenandoah River. Search tasks were written for areas from Low Water Bridge to the county line and were executed by the teams with negative results. Large areas of sediment and thick mud have hindered search efforts and made it difficult for searchers to access many places. Searchers are confident that areas that could be accessed safely were searched.

It is believed that Piccola may have possibly entered the Shenandoah River in the Kayak and was traveling alone. It is not known if Piccola ever made it out of the river safely. Search officials plan to resume search efforts after the water level drops to normal and the clarity of the river has returned to a level that is conducive for additional air, ground and boat searches. Investigators with the Page County Sheriff’s Office continue to work with Investigators in New Jersey to assist in this investigation.

Anyone who is planning to Kayak, Canoe, Float or travel along areas of the Shenandoah River between “Lot 1” Low Water Bridge Luray and Lot 28 at Down River Canoe, Bentonville are encouraged to be on the lookout for a blue kayak, blue life vest or Piccola.

Piccola is described as a white male, 36, 5’9, 140-160lbs. He has no known ties to the area.

Anyone with information may contact Lieutenant Tim Lansberry of the Page County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division or Hopatcong Borough Police at 973-398-5000.

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By: Jay Edwards Follow on Twitter | Like on Facebook

(Edward Piccola)