14 rescued from swift currents on Dan River

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MADISON, N.C. -- First responders in Madison are warning everyone to stay off the Dan River this holiday weekend after 14 people had to be rescued on Thursday.

"I called my chief and told him we need to shut this down,” said Madison Firefighter Pete Webster.

Webster saw the group get into the water and knew they were heading for danger.

"I knew that they were going to need help getting out,” said Madison Search and Rescue Chief Rusty Gray.

The Madison Search and Rescue team quickly set up several miles down the river.

Gray says it would’ve normally taken the group hours to reach him, but with faster than normal currents, that trip only took 45 minutes.

The search and rescue team says the portion of Dan River near South Water Street is about six feet higher than normal and still rising.

Typically, people on tubes or boats can stand up and walk onto land, but Thursday that was impossible, according to Gray.

The team used ropes and flotation devices to pull people in. Four had to be grabbed by a rescue swimmer.

None of the tubers would talk to FOX8.

The rescue team says wearing a life vest is the number one rule.

"We preach and preach and preach life vest,” said Gray. “But honestly, we have never recovered a body with a life vest."

Gray also recommends carrying cellphones in waterproof containers in case you need to call for help.

In this case, rescuers say quick thinking helped avoid a potentially deadly situation.

The Madison Search and Rescue team says it will have people on call throughout the weekend, with emphasis not only along Dan River, but also at Belews Lake.