Surviving members of a family who drowned during a tubing expedition on the Dan River are suing Duke Energy. They say the company is responsible for the low-head dam where the accident occurred.

Five people died on the river in Eden when they rode their inflatable tubes over the dam near the Draper Boat Landing in June.

Among them were members of the Villano family, some from Eden, and several visiting from Indiana. Four relatives were rescued.

Now surviving family members are suing Duke Energy, which owns and operates the low-head dam that stands about 8 feet high.

According to The Times of Northwest Indiana, the lawsuit seeks to hold Duke Energy accountable for the accident. It also encourages owners of other dams to remove or modify them, or at least give people adequate warning of the hidden danger.

Following the accident, a Duke Energy spokesman said “there is a sign that is visible as you approach the dam that also mentions the availability of a portage.”

Family attorney Kenneth Allen says the dams are known as “drowning machines” by those who own or operate them and claims that hundreds have died from encounters with them.

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