Tube accident survivor remembers hanging on to her life – .

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Tube accident survivor remembers hanging on to her life – .


EDEN, North Carolina – One in four survivors of a fatal tube accident said the time her family saw the Dan River Dam, it was too late. Irene Villano, 18, told the media that they saw no warning signs of the 8-foot (2-meter) Duke Energy Dam when they heard the water rushing.

“We thought it was just a bump in the river, you know we would go down,” Villano told WGHP-TV.

Villano was the last of the group of nine parents to cross the roadblock on June 16, she said. In the water, she could see family belongings and her stepmother, Bridish Crawford, face down.

“We wanted to keep her so badly, but we just had to let her go,” Villano told WRAL-TV. Villano, his father, his older brother and his cousin had their tubes around them and they clung to the dam for 20 hours and waited, she said.

“We watched the sun go down. We watched the sun come up, ”Villano said. “I was just screaming for help most of the time, and then I just prayed. “

The next afternoon, a Duke Energy employee spotted them at the roadblock next to a factory and called 911. The crews rescued Villano, his father, Rueben Villano, 35; her 14-year-old brother, Eric; and Karlos Villano, 14 years old. All four were treated at a local hospital for their injuries. Irene Villano is on crutches because of deep scratches on her feet.

On the same day, rescuers recovered the bodies of Crawford, 27; Antonio Ramon, 30 years old; and Sophie Wilson, 14. The body of Villano’s 7-year-old brother Isaiah was found on Sunday. Another tuber, Teresa Villano, 35, was still missing. Authorities were looking for her near the Virginia state border.

Boating experts told The News & Record that these low-head dams are known to trap people in the powerful current that swirls at their base. While Irene Villano said they saw no sign of warning about the dam, a spokesperson for Duke Energy said there were two warnings that a dam was near.

“Our hearts go out to the family,” Bill Norton of Duke Energy told WXLV-TV. “Did we quickly think about what else we can do?” Yes, there had already been warning signs. Yes, this has never happened before. But what else can we do? What steps can we take? This is why we are putting new signs in place at this time. “

On Tuesday, the company installed three bright yellow signs, two placed above the dam and one below.

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