4 dead, 1 missing after group of 9 rafting on North Carolina river plunges over dam

·3 min read

UPDATE: The body of a fourth tuber has been found in a North Carolina river, local officials said Sunday.

The Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that authorities received a 911 call about 10 a.m. reporting a body in the Dan River near a boat landing in the town of Eden.

The sheriff’s office said crews have begun efforts to recover the body. The victim’s identity is yet to be confirmed. Two tubers had been missing. One was a 7-year-old boy. The other was a 35-year-old woman.

One tuber now remains missing following Wednesday night’s accident.

The original story is below:

A 14-year-old is among three people who died when an extended family of nine rode inflatable tubes over a dam on the Dan River in Rockingham County, North Carolina.

Two members of the group — including a 7-year-old boy — remained missing Friday evening, the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office said in a Friday update.

The three dead have been identified as Bridish Crawford, 27, and Antonio Ramon, 30, of nearby Eden, and Sophie Wilson, 14, of LaPorte, Indiana, officials said.

Still missing are Teresa Villino, 35, and Isiah Crawford, 7, both of Eden.

The accident occurred Wednesday, but went undiscovered until Thursday, officials said.

Investigators say the family was participating in a popular local pastime of riding inflated tubes and rafts down the river, officials.

“Around nightfall, the nine individuals, whose tubes were all connected together, went over a dam ... near the Duke Energy Power Plant in Eden,” the department said in a release.

“The next day, at around 3:30 p.m., an astute employee of the Duke Energy Plant saw something that led him to believe there may be individuals in peril on the river and called 9-1-1.”

Rescuers began a search and eventually found four people “clinging to the dam in the river,” officials said.

The four have been identified as: Karlos Villino, 14, of LaPorte, Indiana; Rueben Villino, 35, of Eden and his two children Eric, 14, and Irene, 18. They were taken to a hospital after being pulled from the river, officials said.

The two missing people have been identified as Teresa Villino, 30, and Isiah Crawford, 7, both of Eden, N.C.
The two missing people have been identified as Teresa Villino, 30, and Isiah Crawford, 7, both of Eden, N.C.

A search for the two missing people is ongoing, including teams from Rockingham County and neighboring Pittsylvania County in Virginia, officials said.

Rockingham County Emergency Services Director Rodney Cates told the Greensboro News & Record the four rescued people had non-life-threatening injuries. None of the four were wearing life jackets when they were pulled from the river, the News & Record reported.

The dam is about 8 feet tall and belongs to Duke Energy, Fox 8 reports. It is classified as an “impoundment dam” rather than a hydroelectric dam with turbines, the station said.

Warning signs alerting people to the dam are posted along the river, the sheriff’s office said.

Rafting and tubing is a popular and common recreation on the river, “but most get out and walk around the dam, which is marked by signs,” Cates told The Associated Press.