Local News

Dan River searched for 5-year-old after boat flips

Posted April 13, 2010 5:54 p.m. EDT
Updated April 14, 2010 7:52 a.m. EDT

— Rescue crews resumed the search Tuesday for a missing 5-year-old boy in the Dan River, which flows into Rockingham and Caswell counties.

Capt. Matt Carter with Danville Police Department said that around 1:20 p.m. Monday, emergency services received a call saying a boat had capsized in the river near a dam in Danville, Va.

Kolton Brim Karnes, 5, of Sutherlin, Va., was fishing with his father near Dan Daniel Park when their boat got too close to the dam and capsized, Carter said. Kolton and his father were thrown from the boat.

Two people saw the father frantically trying to pull his son out of the water and attempted to help the pair, Carter said. The current at the base of the dam's waterfall ripped the child out of his life vest and out of the arms of one of the men as it carried them under. Carter said everyone but the young boy came back up.

By Monday evening, Carter said the search shifted from a rescue operation to a recovery operation.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries along with the Danville Life Saving Crew began searching again on Tuesday morning with about five boats in the river, Carter said. The search was suspended shortly before 6 p.m. due to lightning. The search was to start up again around 7 a.m. Wednesday.

On Monday, the water was so turbulent that at one point the Danville Life Saving Crew's boat capsized. Two veteran water rescuers were transported to Danville Regional Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, Carter said.

The two crew members returned to the search on Tuesday, he said. One of the workers said it was the closest he had come to dying in his 25 years on the job, Carter said.

Crews spent some time Tuesday trying to get the capsized rescue boat out of the water so they could search the area nearby. They were not able to search the area under and around the boat Monday, Carter said.

The boat Kolton and his father were in is also in the water near the dam but close to a shore.

Jon Yeaman, a member of the Danville Live Saving Crew, said this is the first time in about 15 years the group have been called to the location.

Yeaman said the depth of the water in the area is about 5 feet, but the currents make the water hard to manage.

Carter said the boy's grandfather is a long time member of the Danville Live Saving Crew.