Death of Vail man under investigation |

Death of Vail man under investigation

Longtime local Joseph Viola,54, was found dead near the Eagle River in Edwards. The cause of death remains under investigation.
Special to the Daily

It could be days before it can be determined how a longtime Eagle County man died.

Joseph A. Viola, 54, was reported missing around 9 a.m. Sunday. The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies launched a search that included social media posts.

A caller reported at 2:30 p.m. Sunday that they had spotted a body near the Eagle River in Edwards. The caller said the body appeared to be the lost party and that he appeared to be deceased.

A massive search operation shifted to the river, where Viola’s body was recovered, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said in a media release.

Viola had lived in Eagle County for many years. Most recently he had been staying with family members in the Bull Run/Lariat Court area of Edwards.

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The Sheriff’s Office said it was believed that Viola left Sunday morning on foot.

Viola was recently released from a hospital in Grand Junction and had medical conditions requiring medications. He had been described as feeling confused, the Sheriff’s Office said in a social media post.

Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said the cause of Viola’s death would be determined by an autopsy, and that it could be days or possibly longer.

Viola has no criminal history, and his family did not consider him suicidal, the Sheriff’s Office said. An investigation is underway.

“We would like to assure the community that there is no ongoing threat and thank those who may have been concerned by the activities for their understanding and patience while we investigate,” the Sheriff’s Office said. Agencies involved include the Eagle River Fire Protection District, Vail Mountain Rescue Group, Eagle County Paramedics, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Eagle County Coroner’s Office, Colorado State Patrol, Avon Police Department, Eagle Police Department, ECO Transit and the Vail Public Safety Communications Center.

If you have information about this incident, call the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office at 970-328-8500 or Eagle County Crime Stoppers at 970-328-7007 or 1-800-972-TIPS, or submit your tip online at, or text a tip from your cell phone by texting STOPCRIME plus your message to CRIMES (274637). If your tip leads to the arrest and indictment of any suspect involved, you could earn up to a $1,000 reward.

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