Two women missing after falling over a dam in a Virginia river on Memorial Day have been identified.
The couple – 23-year-old Lauren Winstead and Sarah Erway, 28 – were among 12 people floating down the James River in rafts and paddleboards tied together when the group crossed the Bosher Dam at around 3:15 p.m drove into Richmond
First responders rushed to the scene and helped 10 members of the group, the Henrico Police Department said in a statement.
But Winstead, of Henrico County, and Erway, of Chesterfield County, remain missing. After sunset on Monday evening, the rescue work was suspended and resumed on Tuesday morning at 7 a.m.
The river’s water level topped nine feet Monday due to recent rains, WVTR reported, and conditions have hampered responders’ efforts to locate the missing women.
When water levels reach such heights, swimmers should not be on the river without a permit or life jacket. It’s unclear if the group had a permit or if members wore safety vests.
Sources told the outlet the group attempted to land at Robious Landing in Chesterfield, but the fast current swept them towards the causeway.
When they drove over the dam, local residents were alerted and took action.
“Someone came and banged on our window and said their group went over the causeway,” Finn Gardner, a neighbor who rushed to the rescue, told WWBT. “So we ran there and tried to get people out of the water and make sure everyone was accounted for.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t find two of them, but we wanted to go through there to make sure everyone got to shore safely,” Gardner said.
Erway’s family friend Winnie Warner, who said she’s known her since childhood, told WVTR that the missing woman’s mother is “heartbroken” at the moment.
“[Sarah] was just on a board with her paddle. But they were all tied up river, and Sarah was the one who said come back, go away. She’s in charge. She is a doer. And we just don’t know. It’s the unknown,” Warner said.
“She was so loved. Everywhere she went, she was loved. And she had that openness and that glow about her.”
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Bosh Dam, located west of Richmond and spanning the James River, is a historic low-head dam that is often referred to as “drowning machines” because of its ability to create dangerous currents and conditions.
“It’s important to remind our community that the James River has dangerous heights and anyone entering should exercise extreme caution and wear a life jacket,” Henrico Police Lieutenant Matt Pecka told the newspaper. Due to the unsafe conditions, he advised all members of the public not to assist in the search.
https://nypost.com/2022/05/31/missing-women-who-went-over-virginia-river-dam-idd-as-lauren-winstead-sarah-erway/ Missing women who walked the Virginia River dam have been identified as Lauren Winstead, Sarah Erway