Extensive search called off at Leesville Lake for possible crash

Crews will not resume search Tuesday morning



After a five-hour search, rescue crews came up empty after someone living along Leesville Lake called police to report something crashing and then sinking underwater.

After searching near the surface and underneath the water with dive crews, authorities say the citizen's claim of debris in the water was unfounded, and they don't believe there was a plane or boat crash in the area.

The caller, who lives in the Terrapin Point area on the Bedford side of the lake, thought it was either a boat or a small plane, but search crews didn't find evidence of a crash.

"We weren't sure what we had, so we were just trying to sort that out, ID what we had to make future plans," said Dallas Neel, a Virginia DGIF Officer.

The Bedford County Swiftwater Team launched first, and rescue swimmer Zach Coleman drove the boat, searching with sonar and marking possible pings.

"It's dark, the water is real brown, so we really couldn't see much of anything down there. And where we were marking stuff at was like 28 feet, (so) you can't see nothing below the top of the water," Coleman said.

This was the team's first time on Leesville Lake, as they're typically called for swiftwater.

Scruggs Dive Team also joined in the search, to go under where there was possibly a hit.

"In the area where they thought they had marked something with their sonar, I did find a large tree. So it's not unusual on this kind of sonar equipment to see those kinds of things," said John Guthrie, 1st Lt. with the Scruggs Dive Team.

Police said that although someone did sink a boat last week in the area, it had been recovered over the weekend.

Crews stayed in the water into the night, despite not finding any sign of a plane, boat or person reported missing.

"At the depths that the divers had to go tonight, it's zero visibility anyways, same as it would be tomorrow, but the temperatures and the wind would affect everyone else that they're trying to support," said Neel.

Operating in darkness adds serious risk to the equation. But Coleman says it's what they do.

"It's always cold and dark in our business, so it's no big deal," said Coleman.

At this point, the investigation is marked as "closed," according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Crews will not resume the search on Tuesday morning.


An extensive emergency search is underway at Leesville Lake.

A citizen called authorities after seeing some debris in the water, thinking it could be related to a boat or plane crash, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Multiple agencies are assisting in the search. It will end for the day if nothing is found, and then will be continued tomorrow, according to DGIF.

Authorities have not confirmed where the debris is coming from, but officers are checking boat ramps and marinas to see if any boats are missing. They also notified State Police in case a plane is found.

This is a developing story. Stay with 10 News for updates.

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