2 Missing After River Float Goes Awry

Women were part of a group whisked over 12-foot dam in Virginia
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2022 12:06 PM CDT
2 Missing Women Were Whisked Over Dam
A raging river.   (Getty Images/SaskiaAcht)

Crews are searching for two missing women, part of a group of floaters who were whisked over a 12-foot dam in Virginia on Memorial Day. A dozen people on rafts and paddleboards took to the James River from Watkins Landing in Powhatan, intending to reach shore at Robious Landing in Chesterfield, reports WTVR. But officials say the current was too strong for the individuals, who were swept over Bosher Dam west of Richmond around 3:15pm Monday. One person made it out of the river to seek help. Kayakers rescued nine others, per the AP. Crews searched the river until dusk but were unable to locate 23-year-old Lauren E. Winstead of Henrico and 28-year-old Sarah E. Erway of Chesterfield.

"I'm hoping that they're in someone's house somewhere trying to find a way to contact their group," Finn Gardner, a local resident who helped with the rescue, tells WWBT. "You got to hope for the best." Richmond Assistant Fire Chief Jeffrey Segal describes officials as "very hopeful," per CBS News. That's despite high water levels, which have now reached 9 feet, per WTVR. The outlet notes no one was to be on the river without a lifejacket and permit as a result of the swell. The AP reports "some of the group's paddleboards and inflatable rafts [remained] caught in the currents" below the dam during the search effort. After an overnight delay, the search resumed at 7am Tuesday. (More Virginia stories.)

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