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Teams Resume Search for Missing Staunton Hiker - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Teams Resume Search for Missing Staunton Hiker

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Augusta County was about to call off its search for a missing hiker, but late Sunday a dog team picked up a human scent on the eastern slopes of Shenandoah Mountain, so teams have returned.  Augusta County Sheriff Randy Fisher says crews are now concentrating on an area where a search dog had multiple alerts.

Search teams from all over the state have been searching for 60-year-old Robert Ray Fitzgerald since last Thursday, when he was reported missing. Last Monday Fitzgerald returned to the Confederate Breastworks Trail on Shenandoah Mountain to find a cellphone he dropped during a hike the previous day and has not been seen since. 

Ground teams, tracking dogs and aircraft have been involved in the search for Fitzgerald. Now, a scaled-back, more focused search effort includes several dogs that specialize in finding human remains.

Fisher says the terrain is steep and treacherous. "This area is very steep and very thick, and probably covers maybe 20, 25 acres. There's mountain laurel in there so thick you can't see more than 5 to 10 feet."

While Fitzgerald is a distance runner and experienced hiker, Fisher says deputies found a trail pack containing a flashlight, food and other supplies in Fitzgerald's car.

Searchers haven't found any signs of Fitzgerald since the search began Thursday.

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