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Man who drove off Virginia Beach pier matches missing person report

The car and body weren't retrieved until six days after the vehicle plunged into the water because of weather conditions and safety concerns.
Man who drove off Virginia Beach pier matches missing person report
Posted at 7:38 AM, Feb 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-07 09:38:08-05

More information has come to light about the person who drove off the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier on Jan. 27.

On Tuesday, police confirmed the person who was recovered from the ocean with the car that drove off the pier was a 57-year-old man from Virginia Beach. The new information comes after a medical examiner confirmed his identity. Police did not release the man's name.

Police confirmed it was the same person a family reported missing.

Virginia Beach police told Scripps News Norfolk that there wasn't any evidence of a crime before the man drove off the pier.

Police say it appears to be a deliberate act.

It's not known when the pier might reopen. Virginia Beach says there isn't an obvious sign of structural damage, but that doesn't mean there isn't any. Owners of the pier have recently hired engineers to do an inspection.

Currently, the city is waiting on a report from them to find out if repairs are needed or if it's considered safe.

Code enforcement will reinspect any work done on the pier and permits will be issued to fix any damage if needed. The city is expecting a report from engineers sometime this week.

Police also confirmed that the man had been reported missing by his family. Before he was identified, VBPD said they believed he might be connected to the incident, since his case had many similarities to the circumstances surrounding the car that was driven into the water.

Reports of a car going off the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier started coming in around 7 a.m. on Jan. 27.

In a viral video viewed more than 12 million times, a car can be seen driving down the pier, not stopping and falling into the water below.

Then for days, people waited for word on when the car would be recovered and more information about the driver.

The body and car were retrieved the morning of Feb. 2, six days after the vehicle plunged into the Atlantic Ocean a few hundred feet from the Virginia Beach Oceanfront boardwalk. Poor weather conditions, the car's instability and diver safety concerns delayed the recovery, police said.

Jackie Grillo, who was jogging on the boardwalk Tuesday, says the community is still shocked and saddened by what happened. She says she’d like to see some good come out of the tragedy.

"I would love to see a more permanent memorial be made," Grillo said. "I think the whole community should get together and have something like that for them, especially to have closure for the family."

The incident has prompted mental health discussions in the community. After the incident, tributes and posters about suicide awareness lined the walkway along the pier.

If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, we encourage you to use the following resources.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

You can call or text 988 if you’re in a suicidal crisis or emotional distress. It’s a national network of local crisis centers that provide free and confidential support. They are available to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can learn more at 988lifeline.org.

Findtreatment.gov

Findtreatment.gov is a confidential and anonymous resource for locating treatment facilities for mental and substance use disorders in the United States and its territories. Visit https://findtreatment.gov/locator to locate treatment options near you.

National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline

The NAMI HelpLine is a free, nationwide peer-supported service providing information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health condition. You can text “HelpLine” to 62640 or call 800-950-6264. Learn more about additional resources at www.nami.org/help.

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective

The Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a nationwide network of mental health professionals who offer virtual and in-office sessions at a steeply reduced rate to people who qualify. You can learn more at www.openpathcollective.org.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Norfolk.


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