Rockingham County leaders to add bilingual warnings of dam on Dan River

North Carolina

EDEN, N.C. (WGHP) — Emergency crews were back on the water Monday searching for a woman who disappeared while tubing on the Dan River almost two weeks ago. 

Teresa Villano and eight other family members went tubing in Rockingham county just before sunset on June 16. 

They mistakenly went over the Duke Energy dam and lost control in the water. Crews rescued four people the next day, and four were found dead. 

The tragedy is now sparking change in the community.  

“I’m glad to see it started a conversation in the community,” said Steven Pulliam, a Dan River keeper.  

Nearly one week after Duke Energy installed signs warning tubers and boaters of the dam, Pulliam plans to add more—this time in Spanish.  

“I think given the circumstances and the obvious need for additional signage,” it “could be beneficial,” Pulliam said.  

He said it’s a big step towards being more inclusive in Rockingham County. 

“It’s a little thing, but it’s something we can hopefully turn into more of a movement that we can see this across the state,” Pulliam said. 

Two signs will go up on the Highway 14 bridge that crosses the river in Eden at Bethlehem Church Road. 

“Then we’re going to order more to go up in different areas. We’re going to put them on the bank before you get to the bridge, so there’s more distance between where you’re at when you can see the signage and then the point where you’re going to need to be getting out of the river,” Pulliam said. 

All in an effort to keep people safe and aware of their surroundings when out on the water. 

“If we can prevent a tragedy, great. If it just makes people feel more secure and ready to get on the river, that’s fantastic too,” Pulliam concluded. 

He expects the signs to be in by Thursday, and they’ll start posting them as soon as they get clearance with the NC Department of Transportation.

He’s also planning on getting 30 life jackets for people to check out for free if they need one before they go out on the water. 

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