The Charlotte Observer
Two women remain missing after a group of kayakers plunged over a 12-foot dam in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday, multiple outlets report, citing city fire officials.
The group became stranded in the James River just after 3 p.m. and then went over Bosher’s Dam about a mile downstream, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The fire department, with help from civilian kayakers, rescued nine people, and one person got their self to safety, WRIC reported. Two victims were unaccounted for, however.
Officials believe the group had been using flotation devices on the river when they were swept over the dam, which has a 12-foot drop, according to the news station. Rescuers searched into the evening in hopes of finding the two remaining kayakers, with plans to resume the search early Tuesday, May 31.
“As of right now, we’re very hopeful but I wouldn’t say it is classified as a recovery mission,” Richmond Fire Chief Jeffrey Segal said at a news conference Monday, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We’re very hopeful.”
Authorities identified the missing women as 23-year-old Lauren Winstead of Henrico and 28-year-old Sarah Erway of Chesterfield,Henrico County police said in a news release. Both are now listed as missing.
“I’m hoping that they’re in someone’s house somewhere trying to find a way to contact their group,” resident Finn Gardner, who helped some of the kayakers get to safety, told the news station. “You got to hope for the best.”
It’s not clear what kind of floating devices the group was using, but witnesses reported seeing rafts and paddleboards in the water, WWBT and The Washington Post reported.
Water levels were high at the time, reaching more than 9 feet by 3 p.m., according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, citing the National Weather Service. Anything over 6 feet is considered “too high” for paddlers, according to the newspaper.