RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A second day of searching for two women who went missing during a water incident on the James River on Memorial Day continued Tuesday, prompting family, friends, and first responders from the City of Richmond and Henrico County to join efforts.
Sarah E. Erway, 28, of Chesterfield County and Lauren E. Winstead, 23, of Henrico County were last seen as part of a group of 12 that ended up going over Bosher’s Dam Monday afternoon on a combination of flotation devices. Authorities, with the help of civilian kayakers, said that they were able to rescue nine members of the group, and that one person self-rescued.
However, as night fell, Erway and Winstead remained missing.
The search for the two young women resumed Tuesday morning.
Loved ones said that they were told to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
“Tragedy is unspeakable, just hits you so hard,” Pastor Vander Warner, Jr., told 8News. “Not depressing, but sadness, grave sadness.”
He and his wife, Winnie, told 8News that they knew Erway and her family through their church community.
“As a mother, there’s a huge hole in your heart,” Mrs. Warner said. “For Sarah, wherever she is, we know the boards are revolving on the dam. She was on a board with just her paddle. They were all tied together upriver.”
The Warners described Erway as a doer, and a bright light who lived her life through faith.
“She was on fire,” Mrs. Warner said. “Everywhere she went, she was loved, and she had that openness and that glow about her.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, a final determination had not yet been publicly released as to what happened to Erway and Winstead. But, the Warners said that Erway’s mother was crushed by the unknowns.
“This could happen to any one of us at any time,” another member of the church community told 8News. “I think that’s the message that the entire family would want to be out — to be ready because it can happen any day to any one of us.”