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The Float Trip That Turned Deadly Was Family Outing

A 30-year-old and 7-year-old remain missing
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2021 8:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – More details are emerging about a tragic float on the water in North Carolina this week, with NBC News reporting the nine people who set out on the Dan River in inflatable tubes Wednesday evening were family members. Authorities say the tubers floated over the edge of the Duke Energy dam, which is about 8.5 feet tall, around 7pm. Rockingham County Emergency Services Director Rodney Cates says that roughly 2 to 3 feet of water is "just churning in a hydraulic manner" at the base of the dam. A Duke Energy employee spotted members of the group on Thursday afternoon. Four were rescued and three were found dead. Teresa Villino, 30, and Isiah Crawford, 7, are still missing.

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Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page on Friday said the search would continue on Saturday, with crews coming in from outside counties. WSOC reports Eden, NC, residents Rueben Villino, 35; daughter, Irene Villino, 18; and son Eric Villino, 14, were rescued, as was Karlos Villino, 14, of LaPorte, Indiana. They were described as very tired after spending 19 hours "subject[ed] to the elements," says Cates. Bridish Crawford, 27; Antonio Ramon, 30; and Sophie Wilson, 14, have been identified as those found dead. Teresa Villino is Rueben's sister, and Isiah Crawford is Bridish's son. The dam is marked by warning signs, and most tubers in the area exit the water and go around it. As a rescuer tells WSOC, "A low-head dam even as short as three or four feet can create underwater currents that can keep you under the water over and over again." (Read more North Carolina stories.)

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