By Debbie Hall
The body of a jogger missing for 10 days from Primland Resort in Vesta was located shortly after noon on Monday, according to Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith.
Sheriff’s Capt. Rob Coleman, deputy Ronnie Williams and Primland employee Tim Branham, were the first to locate the body of Bruce Rubin, 61, Smith said.
The body was found off a bluff, or cliff, in the Roaring Creek Gorge, he said, and added it was not near a marked trail.
Ruben “was an adventurist, and it was not uncommon for his to veer off a trail,” Smith said. “That area had been searched during the past week, but the rhododendron cover was so thick that you could be within 15-feet and easily miss (seeing) something.”
Patrick County Deputy Dan Gray was the first to rappel down and secure the body, Smith said, adding that Gray descended 170-feet down off the cliff from the anchor point.
Deputies, search and rescue personnel, and rappel teams used a stokes basket – a type of enclosed device used to immobilize and transport a victim over terrain – and a system of pulleys and leverage system to recover the body from the gorge by 8 p.m., Smith said.
The body was transported to the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke, he added.
Rubin was reported missing when he did not return after going jogging on the resort’s property at 11 a.m. on July 2.
“This is not the outcome we wanted, but the family deserved closure and they have that now,” Smith said after the end of the search that spanned several days and attracted up to 150 people at its high point during the July 4 holiday weekend.
The number of those searching diminished after “we covered everything” that was navigable on foot.
Specialized rope teams then were called in by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VEDM) “because of the rugged terrain and elevation changes,” and to rappel cliffs that were unnavigable any other way, Smith has said. “This terrain is extremely dangerous.”
He estimated that 20 people were involved in the recent search efforts, plus additional manpower from the dog handlers and members of specialized teams.
“We have used every tool available to us” throughout the search, Smith said, adding that has included “multiple dog teams – search and rescue dog teams from throughout the region in both Virginia and North Carolina.”
In addition to the K-9 teams, the effort also included helicopters and equipment like infrared cameras and drones the sheriff added. The infrared cameras, which are designed to detect various types of heat, and drones could not be fully utilized due to the thick foliage and a “heavy tree canopy,” Smith has said.
The search also was expanded to various adjacent properties, Smith said. For instance, 3,600-acres of Northbrook Energy LLC property (formerly owned by the City of Danville), the Pinnacles of Dan Aqueduct and the Dan River Gorge, which is sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East, also were searched.
Smith said he learned that Rubin was an “avid trail runner and was training for a marathon” – the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim. The event is described as 48.7 miles long, with more than 10,500-feet of elevation gain accumulated over two climbs, according to online information.
In addition to his office, Primland Resort employees, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Smith said other agencies involved in the recovery, among them Black Diamond Search and Rescue, from the New River Valley; Randall’s Adventure Training Search and Rescue, from Alabama; Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad.
Many also helped with the search, including the Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Patrick County Department of Emergency Management, Patrick County Patriots, multiple volunteer fire and rescue agencies in Patrick County, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, and multiple search/rescue teams in Virginia and North Carolina.
A view of the Pinnacles of Dan overlooking the Dan River Gorge.