'I was screaming for help': Survivor of Dan River tubing accident shares story
Nine relatives were tubing along the Dan River last week when they fell over a Duke Energy dam. Four of the tubers hung onto the damn for hours before rescue teams arrived. 18-year-old Irene Villano spoke with WRAL's Bryan Mims.
>>> DOES THIS LOOK BEAUTIFUL? FOUR RELATIVES ARE OUT OF THE HOSPITAL RECOVERING AFTER BEING SWEPT OVER A WALL TUBING ON THIS RIVER. FATHER LOVED ONES. BRYAN MIMS SPOKE WITH ONE OF THE SURVIVORS ABOUT THE HARROWING ORDEAL. >> THE WATER WAS CALM. >> Reporter: THEY HAD PUT IN ON THE RIVER. >> WE PLANNED AN HOUR IS THAT. >> Reporter: THEY HAVE LEFT THEIR CELL PHONES IN THE CAR AT THE LANDING. A FEW HOURS LATER, THEY HEARD WATER RUSHING. >> WHAT YOU SAW IT, IT WAS TOO LATE. >> Reporter: SHE SAID THERE WERE NO SIGNS WARNING OF A DAM. IT TURNED OUT TO BE A OVER THE DUKE ENERGY FACILITY. SHE SAW HER STEPMOM FACEDOWN. HER 7-YEAR-OLD BROTHER, ISAIAH, WAS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. >> WE WANTED TO HOLD ONTO HER SO BAD. >> Reporter: SHE, HER DAD, HER OLDER BROTHER, AND HER COUSIN GRABBED ON TO HOLD IN THE DAM. FOR NEARLY 20 EXHAUSTING HOURS, THEY WAITED. >> I WAS SCREAMING FOR HELP MOST OF THE TIME. UPGRADE. >> Reporter: AROUND 3:30, A DUKE INJURY EMPLOYEE SAW THEM. THE BODIES OF HER MOM, HER LITTLE BROTHER, AND A COUSIN RECOVERED IN A FEW HOURS. IRENE SAYS HER MOM WAS A GODLY WOMAN. >> THE BEST ONE EVER MET IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. MIKE A WOMAN WHO INSTILLED IN HER A FAITH IN GOD. BRYAN MIMS, WRAL NEWS, EDEN.