The vehicle registered to a missing Henry County man was recovered in Patrick County on Tuesday, according to Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith.
Phillip Daniel Lilly, 62, of Ridgeway, was reported missing to the Henry County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 2 by a family member.
“We do not believe that anyone was in this vehicle when it went off the side of the mountain, and we believe that the vehicle has been there for quite some time,” Smith said.
Smith said VDOT employees discovered the 2001 Toyota sedan on Monday. It was over a cliff near Lovers Leap on U.S. 58. VDOT notified authorities, and the Virginia State Police responded to the scene to investigate what was thought to be a motor vehicle crash.
Authorities determined the vehicle was unoccupied, Smith said, and his office then took over the criminal investigation and oversaw the recovery effort.
The vehicle was approximately 200 feet down the side of the mountain when initially found, Smith said.
Tow/recovery operators hooked to and tried to hoist the vehicle up the side of the mountain on Monday, but the frame of the vehicle separated, and the vehicle came loose from the tow cables, which caused it to plummet another 300 feet down the side of the mountain, Smith said.
Patrick County Sheriff’s Maj. Garry Brown then made the decision to cease the recovery process due to safety concerns and the onset of nightfall.
Deputies, tow/recovery operators and Patrick County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Allen worked throughout the morning on Tuesday to recover the vehicle and related evidence.
Brown, along with Capt. Rob Coleman and numerous tow/recovery workers descended approximately 500 feet off of the mountain side and eventually were able to hook to and recover the vehicle, Smith said.
No human remains were found.
Lilly still is considered missing.
Smith said his office is working closely with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office on the investigation.
Anyone with information on Lilly is asked to contact Patrick County Sheriff’s Investigator Brian Hubbard at (276) 692-6512 or Henry County Sheriff’s Investigator David Ayers at (276) 638-8751.