By Debbie Hall
The search for a Chappaqua, New York man missing since Friday from Primland Resort was suspended Wednesday due to the threat of impending rain.
“When it’s wet, there is no way you can risk going into the gorges. We have to wait until it dries back out” to resume the search, Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said Wednesday afternoon.
The search for Bruce Rubin, 61, will be halted until the areas of interest have time to dry, Smith said, but he does not know how long that may take.
Showers are predicted for much of the rest of the week, according to the National Weather Service in Blacksburg.
“We have had specialized rappel teams rappelling cliffs that are no navigable any other way,” Smith said Wednesday afternoon. Team members “have been going off the mountain and back up” the mountain.
The areas currently being searched are slick in dry weather, he said and added that continuing the search in or immediately after a rain event would add to the already dangerous conditions.
“This terrain is extremely dangerous,” Smith said.
Specialized rope teams were called in to tackle the steep terrain on Tuesday, according to Smith, who said the “specialized teams from throughout the region” were needed “because of the rugged terrain and elevation changes.”
It’s the proverbial needle in the haystack. We had more than 150 people up here searching one day,” Smith said, and noted that search and rescue teams from all over the region searched throughout the July 4th holiday weekend.
Smith said the number of those searching diminished after “we covered everything” that was navigable “like four times. By midweek, he estimated there were 20 people searching, plus the dog handlers and the members of specialized teams.
“We’ve had multiple dog teams – search and rescue dog teams from throughout the region in both Virginia and North Carolina,” the sheriff added.
In addition to the K-9 teams, the effort also has included equipment like infrared cameras and drones.
In short, “we have used every tool available to us,” Smith said, and 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 “heavy tree canopy.”
The search also was expanded to various adjacent properties, Smith said. For instance, the 3,600-acres of Northbrook Energy LLC property (formerly owned by the City of Danville), the Pinnacles of Dan Aqua Duct and the Dan River Gorge, which is sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East.
Rubin had a cell phone when he left, but Smith said that coverage is hampered or nonexistent if visitors veer off the many trails.
“We searched the paths on Friday and Saturday,” he said.
Rubin was reported missing after he went jogging on the resort’s property at 11 a.m. Friday, July 2 and did not return.
Smith said he had spent about an hour with Rubin’s wife on Wednesday afternoon, and learned that Rubin was an “avid trail runner and was training for a marathon,” Smith said of the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim run. Rubin “was an avid adventurist and he was in exceptional physical condition.”
In March, Rubin wrote in a social media post that he was “thinking about doing Grand Canyon RTRTR in early Oct., probably more hike than run, perhaps over two days with an overnight at North Rim Lodge. 1. Anyone done it and have advice?”
The event at the Grand Canyon is 48.7 miles long, with more than 10,500-feet of elevation gain accumulated over two climbs, according to https://runbryanrun.com/r2r2r-grand-canyon-rim-to-rim-to-rim-run-info/.
Participants travel “across one of the most picturesque canyons in the world. Twice,” according to online information.
In addition to Smith’s office, others helping with the search are the Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Division of Wildlife Resources, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Patrick County Department of Emergency Management, Patrick County Patriots, Primland Resort employees, multiple volunteer fire and rescue agencies in Patrick County and search/rescue teams in Virginia and North Carolina, Smith said.
Rubin serves as the COO and Chief Compliance Officer of Westchester Capital Management. He joined the firm in 2010, according to online information. An online biography states that he holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.
Rubin started his career practicing law for five years at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, and then held a number of positions at major Wall Street firms, including four years as President and CEO of PaineWebber Properties and three years as CAO at Lightyear Capital, a private equity fund. Before joining WCM, Rubin spent five years at Seneca Capital, an event-driven hedge fund, as Chief Operating Officer.
“We’re not there yet,” Smith said after he was asked when the search effort may be halted.
Rubin is described as a white man, 5-feet, 9-inches tall and weighing 185 to 200 pounds. He has brown eyes, short gray hair and a beard. When last seen, he was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and running shoes.
Anyone with information on Rubin is urged to contact the sheriff’s office at (276) 694 3161 or the resort at (276) 222-3825.