• 73°

Searchers comb river for missing tubers after group goes over dam in NC

By Gerry Broome, Associated Press

Searchers combed a North Carolina river Friday for two missing tubers after a family on a recreational float went over a dam, resulting in three deaths and the rescue of four people from the water.

The group of nine, all believed to be part of the same family, was floating down the Dan River on inflatable tubes and went over a dam that’s about 8 feet (2.5 meters) high next to a Duke Energy plant Wednesday night, Rockingham County Emergency Services Director Rodney Cates told reporters.

A Duke Energy employee who saw some of the tubers called the situation in to 911 on Thursday afternoon, and four were rescued that day. Three tubers’ bodies were also found Thursday.

Cates said that the rescued tubers spent the night floating in the water near the dam before they were found clinging to the tubes. He said they managed to stay afloat for approximately 19 hours, describing them as “very, very fatigued” when they were found. The four were taken to a hospital and were expected to survive.

Cates said the search for the two still missing was suspended late Friday afternoon and would resume Saturday. He said he was still optimistic the two missing tubers could be found alive. Earlier in the day, rescue personnel were seen hauling rafts toward the water Friday at a staging area in Eden, north of Greensboro near the Virginia state line.

“We’re still positive and optimistic, but we’ll see how things go tomorrow,” Cates told reporters.

Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page identified those rescued as Reuben Villano, 35; and children Eric, 14, and Irene, 18, all of Eden. Also rescued were Karlos Villano of LaPorte, Indiana. A news release from the sheriff’s office didn’t indicate how Karlos Villano was related to the others, except to say he was a visiting relative.

The sheriff’s office identified the victims as Bridish Crawford, 27, and Antonio Ramon, 30, of Eden; and Sophie Wilson, 14, also of LaPorte, Indiana.

Still missing are Teresa Villano, 35, and Isiah Crawford, 7, both from Eden, the sheriff’s office said.

First responders indicated the survivors were caught in fast-moving water near the dam when they were found, according to recordings of scanner traffic on broadcastify.com.

First responders could be heard over public safety radio ordering boats and other swift water rescue equipment to the area shortly after the 911 call came in around 3:15 p.m. Thursday.

“We’re taking a call on the Dan River at the dam near the Duke Energy plant. Caller is advising five tubers … went over the dam,” one person says.

A rescuer says on the recording that some of the tubers were stuck near the dam because of the pull of water flowing over it.

“They’re on that side … at the abutment for the dam. And they’re all caught in the pull. If you can come over … we can probably pull them out pretty good, hopefully,” the rescuer can be heard saying.

Cates told reporters Friday that debris and rocks in the river can puncture tubes or rafts, so it’s important for people to wear life preservers. He said it wasn’t clear if any of the nine were using life preservers.

“The current of the river makes it very hard to navigate, even for the most experienced swimmers. So we strongly encourage people to wear some type of personal floatation device in addition to the tube they’re in,” he said.

He said it’s not unusual for people to float the river on tubes or rafts in the area, but most get out and walk around the dam, which is marked by a sign.

Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said the employee who called 911 to report the tubers wasn’t available for an interview.

Associated Press writers Jonathan Drew in Durham and Tom Foreman Jr. in Winston-Salem contributed to this report.

READ ABOUT MORE NEWS HERE.

RELATED:

Three dead, two missing after tubers go over North Carolina dam

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to 30 months in prison for attempting to set police vehicle on fire

News

Parental consent for children’s COVID-19 vaccine included in legislation approved by NC Senate

Currituck

‘Honorary grandmother’ of Corolla wild horse herd dies

News

Motorcycle crash claims life of North Carolina man

News

North Carolina lottery sales bring in record haul for education

Crime

Kill Devil Hills man sentenced to over 10 years in prison for cocaine charge

Lifestyles

Assembly of Praise to hold children’s event Saturday

News

Manteo department leaders report on prior month’s activity

News

Kitty Hawk recreation master plan gets vote of approval

News

Black sea bass fishery opens Friday

Crime

North Carolina police looking for man accused of running over driver after stealing car

News

UPDATED: Kayaker dies off Haulover Sound Access north of Buxton

News

Three shot in North Carolina road rage incident; child among those injured

Lifestyles

GEM: Helping people living with dementia stay home longer

Crime

Teen girl killed in North Carolina hit-and-run crash

Crime

Man residing in North Carolina charged with naturalization fraud

Currituck

Maritime Museum now open in Historic Corolla Park

News

Manteo considers adding New Year’s Eve as town-sponsored event

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to prison, supervised release for firearm charge

Crime

Former North Carolina game room employee charged in shooting

News

North Carolina lawn mower rider killed in road collision

News

Going up: North Carolina gas prices rise after short-lived decrease

News

NCDMF: North Carolina commercial fishermen landed less seafood in 2020, recreational harvest remained stable

Lifestyles

Season tickets now available for Theatre of Dare