BERRYVILLE — The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is continuing to investigate a death that occurred along the Shenandoah River in Clarke County earlier this month.

The victim’s identity still has not been released.

Factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic may be responsible for the lack of information so far, DGIF spokeswoman Paige Pearson said Tuesday afternoon.

“We’ve got fewer guys (investigators) out in the field,” Pearson said, to lessen their risk of exposure to the coronavirus. DGIF doesn’t want to run the risk of its entire investigative unit being shut down if all of the investigators get sick or have to undergo quarantine, she indicated.

With summer’s arrival, more people have become involved in outdoor activities, which has led to various incidents statewide currently under investigation, Pearson said. As a result of that and staffing being reduced, investigations may be “taking a little bit more time” than normal, she said.

The DGIF is investigating the incident because it’s responsible for enforcing laws related to hunting, fishing and boating.

Initial indications are the death occurred during an accident involving a watercraft, officials have said.

The incident happened at approximately 3 p.m. June 19 on the river at a site off Parker Lane, the road leading to Shenandoah University’s River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield. According to the DGIF, some people were traveling on the river in an unpowered craft when a male fell overboard and was unable to climb back in.

Pearson has confirmed that the person died. She has said the craft may have hit an object submerged in the river.

Alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the accident, Pearson has said.

— Contact Mickey Powell at mpowell@winchesterstar.com

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