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Missing kayaker found dead in Clarke County after weeks-long search

(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 7, 2018 at 10:26 AM EDT
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UPDATE (June 19):

Several weeks after crews began searching for a New Jersey man who was last seen buying a kayak in Luray, his body has been found.

According to the Page County Sheriff's Office, Edward Piccola was located in Clarke County on Sunday, June 17. That's about 50 miles from where he had last been seen, though it was never clear how far he had kayaked.

Piccola was reported missing from Hopatcong, New Jersey on May 30 and seen buying a kayak, life vest, and other camping equipment in Luray a day later.

Then, on June 3, deputies traced a vehicle at a public boat landing in the Page Valley Estates area back to Piccola.

That was at the end of a weekend when heavy rains brought the river above flood stage and led to flooding across many areas of the Valley.

Several days later, the search for Piccola had to be suspended to due to additional severe weather along the river.

Then, on June 15, another search for a missing kayaker on the Shenandoah River came to an end with rescue crews

near the Town of Shenandoah.

On June 17, the Clarke County Sheriff's Office found an unidentified body on the bank of the Shenandoah River at a campsite, in the area of Ellerslie Rd, just south of Berryville. Two days later, the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the body to be that of Piccola, and his family was notified.

The Clarke County Sheriff's Office told WHSV they don't suspect any foul play involved in his disappearance.

Crews from many local agencies helped with the search, including Page County Emergency Services, Blue & Gray Search and Rescue, Virginia State Police, Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries, VDEM, Clarke County Sheriff’s Office, Hopatcong Police Department, (New Jersey), and the Sussex County Prosecutors Office.

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UPDATE (June 11):

With heavy rain again hammering the Shenandoah Valley, the search for a missing New Jersey kayaker remains suspended in Page County.

Edward Piccola was reported missing from Hopatcong, New Jersey on May 30. Then, on May 31, he was seen at the Luray Wal-Mart buying a blue kayak, a blue life vest and other camping equipment.

He bought some cigarettes at the Luray 7-11.

Then, he wasn't seen again. His black 2007 Mazda was found at a boat landing along the Shenandoah River on June 3, when the river had passed flood stage.

Crews began searching the river and its banks, but he was unable to be found by June 8, when the search was suspended due to weather.

On Monday, the search remained suspended, but Major Baker, with the Page County Sheriff's Office, said investigation was ongoing.

He advised anyone, if they notice anything out of the ordinary, to call local police to come check into it.

Another kayaker

near the Town of Shenandoah on June 10. In that case, near Shenandoah River Rd. and Junior Ave., an unidentified kayaker was seen going under the water and not resurfacing.

The search, which is being handled by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Town of Shenandoah, continued into the night.

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UPDATE (June 8):

The Page County Sheriff's Office says the search for a missing New Jersey man is being suspended due to concerns about weather.

Officials say Edward Piccola went missing from New Jersey sometime around May 30. Investigators say security footage at the Luray Wal-Mart shows Piccola on May 31 where he purchased a blue kayak, a blue life vest and other camping equipment.

Piccola was last seen at the Luray 7-11 off of U.S. Highway 211, where investigators say he purchased cigarettes.

On Friday, Page County Sheriff's Office consulted with the other officials involved in the search for Piccola and decided to suspend the search. They cited the weather forecast, which they say predicts areas of heavy rain through the weekend, with possible flash flooding.

If you have any information on on Piccola's possible whereabouts, you're asked to contact the Page County Sheriff’s Office at 540-743-6571.

See below for more information on the search.

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There's a large police presence along the Shenandoah River in Page County as authorities search for a man who's been missing from New Jersey for over a week.

According to the Page County Sheriff's Office, an unoccupied vehicle found at a public boat landing in the Page Valley Estates area on June 3 was traced back to Edward Piccola.

Piccola was reported missing from Hopatcong, New Jersey after being last seen on May 30.

He's described as a 36-year-old white man, standing 5-feet, 9-inches tall, and weighing about 150 pounds.

Deputies say he has no known ties to the area, but his black 2007 Mazda was found near "Lot 8" in Page County on Sunday, June 3, after heavy rains brought flooding along parts of the Shenandoah River in the days before.

Family members of Piccola said he was set to camp and kayak in the Luray around the time flooding hit.

Page County Sheriff’s Office Investigators, with the assistance of the Virginia State Police Aviation Division, the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office bloodhound unit and Page County Emergency Management officials have been conducting ground and air searches in the area for the past two days.

If you have any information on on Piccola's possible whereabouts, you're asked to contact the Page County Sheriff’s Office at 540-743-6571.