Search May Be Called off for Missing Hiker

By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
By: Elizabeth Lamb Email

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va -- No one had heard from 60-year-old Robert Fitzgerald since last Monday. Fitzgerald disappeared near the Augusta-Highland County border after looking for his missing cell phone.

An emergency management crew was still hoping for the best on Monday night.

Virginia Emergency Management Coordinator Billy Chrimes has learned about Fitzgerald through friends and family over the past week.

“That adds a personal touch to it, too,” said Chrimes, “That makes it a little more motivating for us to resolve this. Now we see those who care about him, that have seen him every day.”

Volunteers spent hours hiking through the woods to look for Fitzgerald and it is their effort that has kept the search going.

“It's really great to see the people, after they go through training, to work in pretty rough conditions and seeing that that training pays off.”

Part of the trees and bushes in the area are very dense, so it has taken volunteers time to comb through the area to try and find Fitzgerald.

Augusta County Sheriff Randy Fisher said they learned what type of person Fitzgerald is through friends and family who miss him.

“Everybody liked him, a very likable individual,” said Sheriff Fisher, “Lifestyle: he'd get up in the morning and go to work. If he wasn't at work, he was at the YMCA, or in the park running.”

Chrimes said knowing more about Fitzgerald would make calling the search off without Fitzgerald difficult.

“That makes it a little tougher to make the decisions either to stop searching or we're not having any luck with what we're out doing,” said Chrimes.

The Augusta County Sheriff's deputies started to look for Fitzgerald late Thursday afternoon. More than 80 volunteers helped this weekend.

The search is expected to be called off soon if there are not any new signs of Fitzgerald.

If you have seen Robert Fitzgerald or have any tips for investigators in this search, call the Augusta County Sheriff's Office at 540-245-5333.

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