2 missing in Virginia after group went over James River dam

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Authorities in Virginia identified two women missing Tuesday after a group of people in rafts and on paddleboards went over the Bosher Dam on the James River a day earlier.

WWBT-TV reported that 12 people were involved in the accident Monday afternoon. WAVY-TV reported the dam has a 12-foot (3.6-meter) drop, and that water levels have been high. Images of the search show the river seemingly placid above the dam, but roiling below, with some of the group’s paddleboards and inflatable rafts caught in the currents below the rush of water.

One of them managed to reach a nearby house for help. Assistant Fire Chief Jeffrey Segal said kayakers in the area helped rescue nine more. But Segal said two women were unaccounted for despite a very thorough search.

Crews searched for the two women until dusk and the search resumed Tuesday morning, Henrico County police said in a news release. Police said they have worked with friends and families of Lauren E. Winstead, 23, of Henrico County and Sarah E. Erway, 28, of Chesterfield County, listing them as missing.

Police warned that the river is at dangerous levels in some areas and anyone entering the river should be extremely cautious.

Local resident Finn Gardner told WWBT that someone banged on their window saying their group went over the dam.

“So, we ran out there, and we were trying to help get people out of the water and make sure that everyone was accounted for … Unfortunately, we couldn’t find two of them,” Gardner said. “I’m hoping that they’re in someone’s house somewhere trying to find a way to contact their group. You got to hope for the best.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.