Search halted, investigation remains ongoing for missing Buena Vista man

Chad Austin, 30, was last seen Memorial Day

BUENA VISTA, Va. – Although 30-year-old Chad Austin remains missing, law enforcement officers have again concluded their search for the man last seen Memorial Day.

On Saturday, about 80 public safety and search and rescue personnel conducted an exhaustive search of the Pather Falls area of Amherst County, the area where Austin was last seen.

Search and rescue teams gather for morning search briefing at the command post at Buena Vista Overlook on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

"We are greatly appreciative of the many federal, state, local and private resources dedicated to Saturday's search for Chad," said Buena Vista Police Chief Richard Hartman. "This was an extremely organized, thorough search operation that covered some of this area's most treacherous and challenging terrain. We are fortunate to have had such highly trained, experienced search and K-9 teams conducting the operation."

During the course of the investigation, police have received about 20 leads and are still encouraging the public to contact them with any information about Austin, who is well-known among the hiking and Appalachian Trail community.

"This is, and will remain, an active investigation until we can bring Chad home to his family. We are still urging anyone who may recall seeing Chad, his car or even his dog, Gunner, at any time over the Memorial Day weekend to please contact us. No detail is too minor as it may be the very information we need to find him," said Hartman.

Austin is 6 feet tall, weighs between 150 and 170 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information should call Buena Vista police at 540-261-6171.

His family has created a Facebook page, Bring Chad Austin Home

Buena Vista Police Chief Hartman providing a media briefing with members of the Austin family on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

Participating in search operations since last week have been the Amherst County Sheriff's Office, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, U.S. Forest Service, Black Diamond Search and Rescue, Piedmont Search and Rescue, Blue Ridge Mountain Rescue, Search and Rescue Tracking Institute, Dogs East Search and Rescue, Shenandoah Mountain Rescue, Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue and MId-Atlantic Dogs. Also participating with support operations during Saturday's search were the American Red Cross, Rockbridge-Area Community Emergency Response Team, VMI Emergency Management and Virginia Communications Cache - Montgomery.

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