Authorities searching for missing 83-year-old Moneta woman

Her door was found open; she lives alone

By Samantha Smith - Digital Content Producer, Shayne Dwyer - Reporter, Katie Potter - Producer

MONETA, Va. - UPDATE

Bedford deputies say the search continues for 83-year-old Lina Toot.  The Chief Deputy says 130 people were searching through Sunday.

The family has told authorities Mrs. Toot does answer to her middle name "Pat," in case anyone tries to make contact with her.

Starting tomorrow, he says search efforts will be scaled back, but K-9 and air searches will continue.

We will update this story as deputies give us more details of the search effort.

ORIGINAL STORY 

More than 50 search and rescue personnel scoured Bedford County Friday night for a missing elderly woman. They're searching for missing 83-year-old Lina Toot, according to the Bedford County Sheriff's Office. 

Bedford County authorities received a call around 1:35 p.m. Friday reporting Toot missing from her home where she lives alone on Toot Boulevard in Moneta. Bedford County crews began searching for her immediately after that.

After more than eight hours of searching, Bedford County Sheriff's Office Captain Mike Miller said the next 12 hours through Friday night into Saturday morning are extremely critical to the chances of finding her alive. Miller said the steady rain and temperatures hovering in the 30s make this a dangerous situation for a woman of her age, size and health.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has joined the search efforts. That triggered an avalanche of resources from around the region to join in as well working in one unified command. The search for Toot includes drones, bloodhounds and grid-based ground searches where crews are literally walking through the woods.

"What they're doing now, is the areas we've searched, which is the high percentage areas, they're going back and re-searching them and then we can come up with a game plan on where we go from there, so a second set of eyes right now is looking what we've already looked at just to make sure we didn't miss anything," Miller said.

At this point Miller said there's no evidence to lead them to believe there is anything criminal about this situation, rather just a woman who walked out her front door possibly confused. Toot has sundowners which is a light form of dementia that affects people, particularly after the sun goes down.

Toot's family last spoke with her on the phone at 8 p.m. Thursday. They then called her 12 hours later at  8 a.m. Friday morning and she did not answer. A caretaker went to Toot's home three hours later at 11 a.m. Friday and found her door open. The family and the caretaker searched for Toot and then contacted the Bedford County Sheriff's Office when they were unable to locate her.

Toot is described as being 5'3" and 113 lbs., with gray hair. Miller said it's unclear at what point Toot walked out in the 12-hour window between her family's calls, which means at worst case, Toot could have already spent one night lost and now is lost for a second night. 

With that in mind crews are planning to work throughout the night Friday looking for her. They have also directed some crews to rest to be prepared to continue on with the search Saturday morning.

"Our hope is always hopeful and that's where we're going to stay right now," Miller said.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or 586-7827. 

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