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9 Went Tubing on the River. Only 4 Have Come Back

3 tubers dead, 2 missing after they plunged over edge of dam in North Carolina's Dan River
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2021 6:11 AM CDT

(Newser) – A day on the water turned tragic in North Carolina, leaving three tubers dead and two missing after they plummeted over the edge of a dam. The Rockingham County Sheriff's Office says nine people in total started out Wednesday evening on the Dan River in the inflatable tubes, all tied together, but at some point a few broke off, per ABC News. Authorities say the tubers then floated over the edge of the Duke Energy dam in Eden at around 7pm. A worker at the Duke Energy plant who spotted some of the tubers on Thursday called 911, Rodney Cates, the emergency services director for Rockingham County, tells the AP. Four tubers who were "hanging on to various items" were plucked from the water at around 3:30pm, sheriff's office rep Lt. Kevin Suthard tells ABC, noting the survivors were taken to a hospital for treatment.

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"It's a pretty steep drop," he says of the dam. Cates, who notes to the AP that the dam is about 8 feet tall, says that while people enjoying the water are often seen in the area of the dam, which is marked by signs, they usually get out of their tubes or rafts when they get near it and walk around it. He says the tubers who survived likely didn't call for help themselves because they probably didn't have their cellphones with them on the water. The four rescued tubers are expected to recover. Boats and helicopters have been involved in the search, with infrared cameras used in case any tubers managed to get to shore and were huddled there overnight. A search and rescue effort for the missing two continues, with efforts focused on both the river and woods in an area that stretches from the energy plant all the way to the state border with Virginia, reports WDBJ. (Read more North Carolina stories.)

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