3 Dead as Search Continues for 2 Missing North Carolina Tubers Who Floated Over Duke Energy Dam

North Carolina’s Dan River flows into the Duke Energy Dam.
North Carolina’s Dan River flows into the Duke Energy Dam.(Getty)

Authorities found three bodies less than three miles from the dam, as four were rescued alive Thursday afternoon.

The bodies of three people were recovered Thursday evening after a group of tubers floating down the Dan River in North Carolina went over the approximately 8-foot tall Duke Energy Dam in Eden, officials said. Two people from the group are still missing following an extensive search by emergency personnel, the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office said. 

The bodies were found less than three miles from the dam, WFMY reported.

The search, by boat and by helicopter, resumed Friday morning, WSOC reported. 

"We're going to stay positive that we can do a rescue rather than a recovery, and we're going to stay positive until we find otherwise," Rockingham County Emergency Services Director Rodney Cates said.

The five were part of a larger group of nine, four of whom were rescued and treated at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. They were not wearing life jackets upon rescue, Rockingham County emergency officials said.

The nine of them had gone tubing Wednesday, when around sunset at 7 p.m. that evening, their tubes went over the dam, WXII reported. 

Their tubes had originally been tied together, but at some point, came apart, authorities said. The four that had been found were spotted by construction workers around 3:30 p.m. the following day, and they had been "hanging on to various items," Cates said, WSOC reported.

They likely did not call for help sooner as they did not have their cell phones on them, authorities said.

Authorities have not released the identities of anyone in the group, and search efforts are underway between the Duke Energy Plant to the Virginia state line, WSOC reported.

People do float down that particular area of the river in inflatable tubes or rafts, but people normally get out and walk around the dam, which is marked with signs, Cates said.

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