News Body of boy, 7, the fourth recovered after group on inflatable tubes goes over dam in North Carolina

Body of boy, 7, the fourth recovered after group on inflatable tubes goes over dam in North Carolina

Rescue personnel are still searching the Dan River in North Carolina for a fifth tuber. Photo: ABC/AP/Gerry Broome
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A fourth body has been found in a North Carolina river after a group of nine people floating down a river on inner tubes went over a dam.

One of the group remained missing following Wednesday night’s accident.

The Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that authorities received a 911 call about 10am on Sunday (local time) reporting a body in the Dan River near a boat landing in the town of Eden.

The sheriff’s office said crews had begun efforts to recover the body.

Four people were rescued Thursday, while three bodies were found the same day.

The Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a news release that Isiah Crawford, aged seven, was the person who was found in the Dan River.

Another person, Teresa Villano, 35, is still missing. The search for her continued on Sunday, including near the Virginia state line, officials said.

Low-head dams notorious

The group went over a dam about 2.5 metres high next to a Duke Energy plant.

Boating experts told The News & Record that such low-head dams were notorious for trapping people in the powerful current that churns at their base.

Dan River keeper Steven Pulliam told the newspaper that recent rains may have created mud that obscured a portage area where boaters and tubers could exit and walk around the dam’s powerful currents.

“It’s possible that recent rains covered some of the steps with mud, making it hard to see, especially if you’re not looking for it,” he said.

Jeff Brooks, Duke Energy spokesman, said a sign was “visible as you approach the dam that also mentions the availability of a portage.”

Survivors stayed afloat 19 hours in the water

Rockingham County Emergency Services director Rodney Cates said survivors spent the night floating in the water near the dam before they were found clinging to the tubes.

He said they managed to stay afloat for about 19 hours, describing them as “very, very fatigued” when they were found.

The four were taken to a hospital and were expected to survive.

Mr Cates said there was a lot of debris in the water.

“The inner tube could deflate by whatever means,” he said.

“If that inner tube deflates, and you don’t have a personalised floatation device on, then certainly you’re going to have a problem.

“The current of the river makes it very hard to navigate, even for the most experienced swimmers.

“So we strongly encourage people to wear some type of personal floatation device.”