The accident is "the worst in my memory," said Rockingham County Emergency Services Director Rodney Cates, who reminded others to always wear life jackets before going into the water

Isiah Crawford
Isiah Crawford
| Credit: Rockingham County Sheriff's Office

Search and rescue teams in North Carolina found the body of a 7-year-old boy who went missing last week in a tubing accident that killed at least three other people, including his mother.

Isiah Crawford, of Eden, North Carolina, was found dead in the Dan River just after 10 a.m. on Sunday, four days after he was involved in a tragic accident with eight other family members.

Rockingham County Emergency Services Director Rodney Cates said in a press release that a citizen found the body near the Draper Landing, and first responders confirmed it was that of Isiah.

"The river flow increased overnight with the release of the water from Belews Lake and we knew it was very likely that the victims could surface as a result of the increased river flow," the statement read. "We continue to stand firmly behind the decision made yesterday to suspend search efforts until we had new leads upon which to search."

The incident took place on Wednesday, when a group of nine people who were all related took a set of connected inflatable tubes out to float down the river, a "popular pastime" in the county, officials said.

Around nightfall, the group went over a dam on the river near the Duke Energy Power Plant, and a Duke employee called police the next day around 3:30 p.m. after spotting something in the water.

First responders were able to rescue four people who were "clinging to the dam in the river": Rueben Villano, 35, his son Eric, 14, and daughter Irene, 18, and 14-year-old Karlos Villano.

Bridish Crawford, Isiah's 27-year-old mother, was found dead later that day, as were Antonio Ramo, 30, and Sophie Wilson, 14.

Search and rescue teams are still looking for 35-year-old Teresa Villano, who is Rueben Villano's twin sister and Sophie Wilson's aunt.

Officials on Sunday said that two watercrafts were sent back out to search for Teresa Villano after Isiah's body was found, but their efforts were unsuccessful.

Cates previously said on Saturday that officials had "exhausted all efforts to rescue, or recover, the two remaining victims" from the incident, and that all search, rescue and recovery efforts would be suspended after more than 30 hours of searching. On Sunday, his statement said that recovery operations would not end, and that officials would continue to monitor the flow of the river.

A GoFundMe page organized by Bridish's mother expressed her anguish at losing both her daughter and her grandson.

"This has been an unexpected tragedy and my life has been turned upside down," she wrote. "The loss of my daughter and grandson has brought so much emotion, pain, tears and so much disbelief."

The Greensboro News & Record reported that the dam's drop-off causes a strong current at its base that makes it near impossible for a tube or raft to go over it without flipping.

Cates reportedly said that when the survivors were found, they were very fatigued and had been "subjected to the elements for 19 hours." He also noted that none were wearing life vests.

"The biggest thing to remember is always wear a life jacket. They not only help you float, but give you protection against obstacles," he said last week. "If you're new to the river, I'd recommend a life jacket and a helmet. As for bad accidents, this is the worst in my memory.''