Rockingham County officials end search for missing 7-year-old, 35-year-old after 3 die in family tubing incident

North Carolina

Crews searching for 5 people after group on rafts go over Duke Energy Dam in Eden

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. 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.Find out first — Get the latest breaking news from FOX8 sent straight to your inbox. 

“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.Tropical Storm Claudette forms, brings flooding to US Gulf Coast 

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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