Three people were found dead in the Dan River in North Carolina on Thursday after a group went over a dam in an inner tube and drowned, according to the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office. Two members of the group remain missing.
They were among nine local residents who trekked out to the river at around sunset on Wednesday, the authorities said.
On Thursday, an employee at Duke Energy told the authorities that four people were holding on to a single tube in the river and appeared to need help, according to Sam Page, the sheriff of Rockingham County.
“They were all holding on for dear life,” Sheriff Page said.
The four tubers were rescued and taken to a hospital, he said.
A helicopter rescue crew found the three bodies in the river, Sheriff Page said, adding that search efforts were continuing for the two missing tubers. By Friday morning, the search had extended to Danville, Va.
The authorities declined to share the names of the three people who were killed and the ages of the other tubers. Sheriff Page said his office was still investigating why the group went out to the river so late.
“I’ve worked here as sheriff for 23 years, but this is probably the most significant number of victims,” he said. “I don’t recall seeing that high of a number associated with potential drownings.”
There are signs on the river that warn people of the approaching dam, according to the sheriff.
“This time of year, a lot of people are on the water,” Sheriff Page said. “You just have to be careful.”