EDEN, N.C, (WGHP) — 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.
Rockingham County Emergency Services Director Rodney 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 only 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.
The four people rescued so far are a 14-year-old boy, his uncle and two cousins.
Three bodies have been recovered, and two remain on the river.
Cates says they intend to continue searching on the water until dark and will be using a helicopter Friday afternoon to survey the area.
We spoke with the mother of the boy, who says he is tired but doing all right. His grandfather says he was visiting his aunt and uncle from out of state. He’s been released from the hospital as of Thursday night.