VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Authorities and loved ones are searching for a missing 76-year-old woman who was last seen Tuesday morning in the Ocean Lakes/Dam Neck area of Virginia Beach.
VBPD started searching Wednesday morning and Virginia State Police sent out a Senior Alert just before 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The family of Shu Jin Wu says she was last seen around 7:30 Tuesday morning when she went to take the trash out at her home in the 1500 block of Gallery Ave. The family dialed 911 a few hours later to report her missing, police said.
Wu does not speak English, but does speak Mandarin, and does not have her cell phone.
Wu’s family says she was wearing the same outfit that she is pictured in above. Family says she wasn’t wearing her coat.
She also takes high blood pressure medication that she does not have with her. Her family says she has not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but state police said in their announcement that she suffers from a cognitive impairment.
At this time, there’s no indication of foul play. She doesn’t drive and is expected to be on foot. She’s about 5 feet 2 inches tall and 100 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.
Family members are stitching together sightings reported at the Malbon Brothers Mart at General Booth Blvd., near Ocean Lakes High School and Upton Drive. Those reports concern the family since they would indicate she crossed the busy General Booth Blvd.
Police said they started canvassing the area where Wu went missing immediately after taking the initial missing person’s report from family. They were unable to find her. They said they used a K-9 and police helicopter to search.
Preliminary search efforts went through Tuesday evening and included notifying local hospitals and transportation outlets as well as alerting other local jurisdictions. On Wednesday morning, Tidewater Search and Rescue started its search efforts. It currently has 40 volunteers participating in the search efforts, police said Thursday evening.
With a sense of urgency in their step volunteers on a chilly and rainy Thursday morning gathered at Beach Fellowship Church, which is the command post for volunteers who are assisting in the search for Wu.
“I have a grandmother who has Alzheimer’s, so I would hope the same thing would happen if my grandmother went missing,” said volunteer Robert Kimick, whose grandmother lives in Florida.
Virginia Department of Emergency Management Officer Mark Eggeman is assisting Virginia Beach police by organizing the volunteer search effort. In a morning briefing in the church’s sanctuary, Eggeman explained how authorities will coordinate with volunteers to make sure important information is shared and efforts are not duplicated.
Eggeman said several reported sightings have been evaluated and documented. For example, a Dam Neck Road sighting was rated ‘6’ on a scale of 1 to 10. Because of the high rating, it was marked on a map of the search area.
“So we put that on the map, whether it means anything to us right now, I don’t know. we are connecting the dots,” said Eggeman.
Volunteers searched five square miles which cover several neighborhoods and bodies of water around General Booth Bvd. and Dam Neck Road.
U.S. Navy sailor Jitao Song and his friends walked in the area of Gershwin Drive as a show of support to the Wu family.
“Someday my mom might be missing; I hope more people can do that,” said Song.
At the command post, members of the Chinese community are rallying around the Wu family.
“We will try our best to find her. Everyone is worried about her, so we need to help each other,” said local realtor Penghao Li.
On Thursday, police also released a request to the public to come forward with any information that may help them find Wu.
A reverse 911 call is being issued to alert the residents of surrounding neighborhoods to be on the lookout for Wu.
Police hope neighbors and business owners may have surveillance video that could help determine which direction Wu went.
Anyone with information is asked to call VBPD at (757) 385-5000 or contact the VBPD detective bureau at (757) 385-4101.