Body of 4th victim recovered after family tubing on NC river plunges over dam; 1 still missing

EDEN, N.C. — Four people died and one remains missing after a group riding on inflatable tubes tumbled over a North Carolina dam Wednesday, authorities said.

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Nine family members between the ages of 7 and 35 were floating on the Dan River, near the Duke Energy Power Plant in Eden, when they went over the dam, according to officials with the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.

Update 9:35 a.m. ET June 21: A survivor of Wednesday’s incident on the Dan River told WFMY-TV that she and others on the tubing trip did not know there was a dam on the river before plunging over it.

Irene Villano, 18, told the news station that if they had known, “None of us would’ve gone down it ever.”

Irene Villano; her brother, 14-year-old Eric; her father, 35-year-old Rueben; and her cousin, 14-year-old Karlos; were found clinging to the dam on Thursday, according to WFMY and the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities have since recovered the bodies of Bridish Crawford, 27, Antonio Ramon, 30, Sophie Wilson, 14, and Isiah Crawford, 7. Officials continue to search for Teresa Villano, 35, who remained missing Monday morning.

Rueben Villano and Teresa Villano were twin siblings, according to The Washington Post. Their mother, Debi Villano, told the newspaper that Teresa Villano was pregnant. She said Ramon had been her partner for 13 years. The couple shared three children and had recently moved to Eden.

“Everything was going great until this,” Debi Villano told the Post. “It’s just all a big tragedy.”

Update 6 p.m. ET June 20: The body of a 7-year-old boy, missing since members of a family tubing on a North Carolina river plunged over a dam Wednesday, was recovered Sunday, authorities confirmed.

The body of Isiah Crawford, 7, of Eden was located after someone called 911 around 10:02 a.m. and reported seeing a body in the water, WGHP reported.

Sunday’s discovery brings the rafting accident’s death toll to four, with four people rescued and one person still missing, WTVD reported.

Teresa Villino, 30, of Eden remained the only family member unaccounted for Sunday evening, the TV station reported.

Original report: According to Rockingham County Emergency Services Director Rodney Cates, nine people tubing on the Dan River went over the Duke Energy dam near Eden at about 7:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, WTVD reported.

The three people who died were identified as Bridish Crawford, 27, of Eden; Antonio Ramon, 30, of Eden; and Sophie Wilson, 14, of La Porte, Indiana, WGHP reported.

Teresa Villano, 30, of Eden, and Isiah Crawford, 7, of Eden, are still missing, the television station reported.

“We’re going to stay positive that we can do a rescue rather than a recovery,” Cates said about the missing tubers.

On Friday, authorities identified the survivors as Rueben Villino, 35, of Eden; his son, Eric Villino, 14; his daughter, Irene Villino, 18; and Karlos Villino, 14, of LaPorte, Indiana, WTVD reported.

A Duke Energy employee who saw some of the tubers called 911 shortly after 3 p.m. EDT Thursday afternoon, Cates said.

The employee said he spotted four of the nine people at the bottom of the dam and called for rescue services, WGHP reported. Those four people were taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the television station.

Officials resumed the search for missing tubers on Friday morning, according to WTVD. The investigation is being conducted from Rockingham County to the Virginia border, the television station reported.

“We have done both an air and water search at this time,” Cates told reporters. “We’ve had an aircraft that has flown the river. They flew 6 miles into Virginia, they came back (and) widened their perimeter and flew the ground area adjacent to the river.”

Duke Energy said the dam is not hydroelectric and does not have turbines, WGHP reported. It is a smaller impoundment dam.