New York Daily News reports that on Saturday, June 19, 2021, the body of a 7-year-old boy was recovered after a family inner tube outing along the Dan River in Eden on the evening of Wednesday, June 16.
North Carolina officials say that the family of nine was floating along the river when they went over an 8-foot dam near the Duke Energy Steam Station. They rescued four of the party of tubers from the river on Thursday morning, leaving five other family members missing.
The bodies of three of the five missing members were recovered approximately three miles from the dam later on Thursday.
According to a statement from the Rockingham County Department of Emergency Services, an eyewitness discovered the missing child’s body on Sunday at approximately 10:00 a.m. and called 911.
A 35-year-old woman remains missing.
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Steven Pulliam, a Dan Riverkeeper, told reporters that low-head dams like the one that this family went over pose specific dangers to river rafters or tubers. The hydraulic force of the water at the base of the dam pulled the family under, turning it into what boating experts call a “drowning machine.”
Pulliam said that this accident is the worst in his memory.
“The biggest thing to remember is to always wear a life jacket,” Pulliam said in a statement to reporters. “They will not only help you float but will give you protection against obstacles.” For new water rafters or tubers, Pulliam also recommends wearing a helmet.
Investigators say that none of the family members had been wearing a life vest at the time of the tragic accident.