EDEN, N.C. (WNCN/WGHP) – Rescue crews searched 16 miles of the Dan River for two missing tubers Friday. Searchers from North Carolina and Virginia floated up and downstream. Aerial searches didn’t turn anything up.
“We want to be very optimistic. We want to find them. We want to make sure they’re OK. We want to make sure they’re safe and again it’s our job to make sure we can do that,” said Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page.
The bodies recovered were those of Bridish Crawford, 27, of Eden; Antonio Ramon, 30, of Eden; and Sophie Wilson, 14, of La Porte, Indiana.
Those rescued were Rueben Villano, 30, of Eden; Eric Villano, 14, of Eden; Irene Villano, 18, of Eden; and Karlos Villano, 14, of La Porte, Indiana.
The two last missing tubers — 30-year-old Teresa Villano and 7-year-old Isiah Crawford, both of Eden — were part of a group of nine of family and friends, the sheriff said. They started their trip Wednesday afternoon.
“In all my years working in law enforcement, I haven’t seen anything to this number or this magnitude,” said Page.
Page said the whole group went over the Duke Energy dam in Eden. Page said four people were found clinging to their tube at the base Thursday afternoon by Duke Energy workers. Searchers found three other people dead Thursday evening.
“We ask everyone to say a prayer for them and their families during this time of loss,” Page said.
Authorities added that search efforts will continue Saturday, but without an aircraft involved. Crews will look in the water.
Summer not even officially underway and it’s already seeing how dangerous waterways can be.
It’s especially true at low-head dams, like in Eden, where rain can increase water velocity. The dam is about 8 feet tall. It does not have the turbines one might expect a hydro facility.
It serves as a cooling water for the natural gas plant at the site.
“On the downstream side, you can have what’s called hydraulics. The more water comes, the more that churns. A person coming over that dam can get caught in the hydraulics and it can drown you,” Page said.
Page said people don’t typically go over the dam. He said they tend to get out of the water before the dam and hop back in at a later point.
Anyone who will be out on the water this summer should be prepared.
“Make sure you’re aware of where you’re going. Make sure you have skill level if you’re going to enter the water. Make sure you have a flotation device, a personal flotation device and again, carry a cellphone in a water tight bag,” Page said.