Crews not searching Dan River for missing tuber on Tuesday after accident left 4 dead; search not called off entirely

Piedmont Triad News

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Crews will not be out searching along the Dan River on Tuesday for the last missing tuber after a tubing accident earlier this month.

Four people have been found dead. Four others were rescued.

Although crews are not searching the river on Tuesday, the search has not been called off entirely.

On Wednesday, June 16, an Eden family went tubing with relatives visiting from La Porte, Indiana. The nine family members went tubing on the Dan River around 7:30 p.m., just before dark. At some point, the tubes went over a Duke Energy dam in Eden.

Four people were rescued, three of which were teenagers.

Those rescued were three members of the Eden family—35-year-old Rueben Villano, 14-year-old Eric Villano and 18-year-old Irene Villano—as well as 14-year-old Karlos Villano, of La Porte, Indiana.

Four bodies have been recovered from the river. The bodies recovered were those of Eden family members 7-year-old Isiah Crawford, 27-year-old Bridish Crawford and 30-year-old Antonio Ramon, as well as 14-year-old Sophia Wilson, of La Porte, Indiana.

Isiah Crawford’s body was found on Sunday after someone called 911 around 10:02 a.m. and reported seeing a body in the water.

35-year-old Teresa Villano, of Eden, is missing.

Emergency crews were back on the water Monday searching for Villano.

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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