Two women who went missing after falling off a dam on the Virginia River on Memorial Day have been identified.
The couple – Lauren Winstead, 23, and Sarah Elway, 28 – were among 12 people who drove through Richmond around 3.15pm Raft and paddle down the James River at the Temple Dam.
In a statement, the Henrico Police Department said first responders were on the scene and assisted 10 members of the group.
But Winstead in Henrico County and Elway in Chesterfield County remain unaccounted for. Rescue operations were suspended after sunset on Monday and resumed at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
The river’s water level exceeded 9 feet on Monday due to recent rain, and conditions hampered rescue efforts to find the missing woman, WVTR reported.
Swimmers should not enter the river without a permit or life jacket when the water level reaches such heights. It was unclear if the group had a license or if members wore safety vests.
Sources told the media the group attempted to land at Robious Landing in Chesterfield but rapids rushed them towards the causeway.
When they drove over the dam, local residents were warned and acted.
“Someone came knocking on our window and said their group had crossed the causeway,” Neighbor Finn Gardner, who rushed to the rescue, told WWBT. “So we ran out there trying to get people out of the water and make sure everyone was counted.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t find two of them, but we went through there and made sure everyone got ashore safely,” Gardner said.
Erway’s family friend Winnie Warner, who said she has known her since childhood, told WVTR that the missing woman’s mother is “heartbroken” at the moment.
“[Sarah] was just on the board with her paddle. But they were all tied to the river, and Sarah was the one who said come back, go away. She’s in charge. She’s a doer. And we just don’t know. This is the unknown,” Warner said.