Body of Second Missing Woman Recovered from James River

Cover photos of the James River running through Richmond, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Getty Images by felixmizioznikov

After a week-long search, Richmond rescue crews recovered a body presumed to be that of Sarah Erway, 28, one of two women who went missing after a paddling accident over Bosher Dam in Virginia. The accident took place on the James River on Memorial Day weekend, at a time when the river was running at dangerously high levels. This week, the Virginia medical examiner’s office has confirmed that the body found in the James River was that of Erway.

23-year-old Lauren E. Winstead of Henrico County and 28-year-old Sarah E. Erway of Chesterfield County.(Courtesy of Henrico Police)

The Henrico Police Department says that on June 6 at approximately 7:48 a.m Richmond Fire responded to a call from a citizen claiming they spotted a body in the middle of the James River, 200 yards downstream of the Huguenot Bridge. Authorities recovered the body shortly after and concluded their search for the missing woman. 

“Henrico Police extends their thoughts and support to the families and friends that have lost loved ones from the tragic incident a week ago,” Eric D. English, Chief of Police wrote in a press release. “We hope they will find closure after today’s recovery.”

Twelve people were involved in the Bosher Dam incident on Memorial Day. Their plan was to float their inflatable SUP boards and tubes from Watkins Landing to Robious Landing, which is a five-mile-plus stretch of river. Officials say the group got caught up in the dam around 3:15 p.m. and 10 people were rescued from the river, but Erway and Lauren Winstead, 23, never resurfaced. The remains of Winstead, 23, were found two days after the accident on June 1.  

While announcing the recovery of Winstead’s body, Richmond Fire Battalion Chief Robert Maass was asked about the emotional toll the extensive recovery mission has had on the rescue crews. “I can tell you it’s very difficult for our crews,” he said, as he held back tears. 

River safety is vital in helping prevent accidents on the water. Officials urge the public to educate themselves on the areas the recreate and connect with professionals on safety precautions and appropriate gear. Conditions on regional rivers are ever-changing, so it is important to always check water levels. 

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