OAK HILL, W.Va. — State police have received word that human remains found underneath the New River Gorge Bridge last year were that of Marion County native Robert Kovack who went missing in September 1998.
A brief news release from the Oak Hill detachment Monday said investigating troopers have received DNA confirmation from the Smithsonian Institute. According to troopers, there’s also indication from the remains that Kovack may have been hit by a vehicle before falling from the bridge.
The skeletal remains were discovered on March 10, 2016, more than 17 years after Kovack, 25, of Rivesville, went missing. Kovack was a student at Virginia Tech at the time and was headed home for the Labor Day weekend in 1998 but never arrived at his destination. His car was found along U.S. Route 19 on the north end of the bridge. No trace of him was ever found.
The area underneath the bridge was throughly searched in the days and months after the vehicle was discovered but nothing was found until last year.
“It’s a steep, remote area where you’d have to walk around them. That’s where you’d have to be to be directly under the bridge, but it’s just impassable to get down to it on foot,” State Poilce Sgt. K.D. Horrocks told MetroNews at the time. “Had they not been down there cutting brush, we might have been another 15 years.”
The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the Oak Hill detachment at 304-469-2915.