Smith Mountain Lake, VA – It has been three days since a man, now presumed dead, was seen on Smith Mountain Lake.
Conservation Police searched for John Shoop, 74, Monday.
John Shoop's son Daniel Shoop says there were three friends on the dock Friday evening who saw his father set sail. They turned their attention for just a moment, and when they turned back, Shoop was gone.
The friends hopped in another boat but only found Shoop's hat. Their timeline and the ability to pinpoint Shoop's last location are crucial elements in the search.
Conservation Police stared out across Smith Mountain Lake from marker R-2 Monday.
"No one saw what happened," said Lt. Karl Martin.
According to Lt. Martin, it's hard to see anything deep below the lake's surface.
"At 40 feet, you're at almost a coal mine without light," Martin said.
The water in the search area can be as deep as 190 feet. The water gets colder the further down you go and even skilled divers won't venture below 110 feet.
"We have to have some reason, even then to send divers down into what can also be described as an underwater forest," Martin said.
The search team pulled the sonar this weekend, when it got tangled up in trees. Above water, the team keeps all eyes on the shoreline in the area where Shoop was last seen.
"We are due to witness accounts, fairly satisfied that we have an area mapped and grids already searched that would have produced an image had he gone into a deeper area," Martin said.
Conservation Police say they'll have special patrols of the area at night and early morning. The patrols may last for days, or even weeks, until they can tell John Shoop's family he's been found.
The search team has plans to go out with the sonar again.
Shoop's son says the family will return to the Richmond area Tuesday.