emergency lights

A two-day search for a missing Smyth County man ended in tragedy Saturday evening.

On Friday, a family member reported that Clifton Eugene Hoover Jr. was missing. The family believed he went to his cabin in the Ceres area Thursday evening and had not returned.

According to a press release from the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office, it was believed that Hoover rode his ATV to the cabin and might have attempted to cross the North Fork of the Holston River. With recent heavy rains, the river was several feet higher than normal.

Sheriff Chip Shuler reported that a search got under way Friday, but the high water levels and darkness suspended the search until this morning.

This afternoon, searchers found Hoover’s ATV downstream from the point where he was believed to tried to cross the river. This evening, after an extensive search, Hoover’s body was found and recovered by swift water rescue personnel.

Multiple agencies assisted the sheriff’s office with the search, including Black Diamond Search and Rescue, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Nebo Fire Department, the Virginia State Police, and Smyth County Emergency Management. 

Sheriff Chip Shuler said, ‘We would like to express our appreciation to all agencies involved in this search.” 

With a Facebook post, Hoover’s sister also expressed the family’s gratitude to the first-responders. She asked the community for prayers.

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