NC officials end search for missing 7-year-old, 35-year-old after family tubing on Dan River goes over dam; 14-year-old among 3 dead

North Carolina

Rescue personnel stage along the Dan River in Eden, N.C., Friday, June 18, 2021. The search for two missing tubers continues after three others were found dead and four more were pulled from the water after the group went over an 8-foot dam Wednesday. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Rockingham County Emergency Services officials stopped searching on Saturday for two people who are missing after family tubing on Dan River went over a dam, according to a RCES news release.

Nine family members went tubing on the Dan River around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night, just before dark. At some point, the tubes went over a Duke Energy dam in Eden.

Four people were rescued, three died and their bodies were recovered from the river, and two are still missing.

Emergency officials say they feel confident they have exhausted all efforts to rescue or recover Teresa Villano, 35, of Eden, and Isiah Crawford, 7, of Eden.

“We have remained optimistic that we could rescue the two victims, but as we conclude over thirty hours of searching which has involved multiple aircraft as well as many swift waster rescue teams from multiple jurisdictions this operation has transitioned to a recovery effort,” said Rockingham County Emergency Services Director Rodney Cates.

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, 35, of Eden, Eric Villano, 14, of Eden, Irene Villano, 18, of Eden, and Karlos Villano, 14, of La Porte, Indiana.

Cates says he believes the people on the tubes didn’t have a way to call for help, which caused the delay in rescue efforts.

Shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday, a Duke Energy employee spotted four of the nine people at the bottom of the dam and called for rescue services. Duke Energy says the employee was just doing the right thing and trying to get help for the individuals.

The Duke Energy dam is about an eight foot drop, according to Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page.

Duke Energy reports that it is not a hydroelectric dam and does not have turbines. It’s a smaller impoundment dam.

Cates does not know if any of the victims were wearing life jackets, and they are working to find out if the tubes were rented or owned by the family.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the victims and families of this tragic incident,” Cates said. “We are very grateful for the men and women from the multiple jurisdictions and agencies who have invested many hours into this operation. We are also very grateful for the community support that we have received.”

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