A massive rescue effort was quickly put underway for an undisclosed number of rafters who were believed to be missing along the Lehigh River on Monday evening.
As of 10 PM EDT, three hours after the search efforts began, the search was called off after all rafters were believed to be accounted for and on land, per The Morning Call.
Carbon County 911 Director Gary Williams said of the concluding search, “It sounds like they’re kind of wrapping it [the search] up right now. They seem to be happy with the numbers, or else they’d still be out there. The people on the scene are talking to the rafting company.”
According to WFMZ-TV, it was initially difficult to get a proper head count of rafters because they had pulled off along the river at various locations, due to the inclement weather and dangerous river conditions. But now, authorities are confident that all rafters have been accounted for.
The whole search started earlier in the day when Emergency Alerts County of Lehigh, a volunteer group focused on weather alerts, posted at 7:45 PM EDT that approximately 200 people had gone rafting from Jim Thorpe and only 50 were accounted for. That means that up to 150 rafters were not accounted for in an area that’s been experiencing severe flooding and thunderstorms.
Throughout the search, there were conflicting reports about whether or not that many (if any) rafters were currently missing.
Chris O’Connell of Fox29Philly tweeted, “Breaking:Water rescues underway on Lehigh River in Carbon County. Report says 200 rafters had gone out earlier and only had 55 had returned.
@FOX29philly has crew on the way.”
The discovery of potential missing rafters occurred when an empty raft was located at Bowmanstown around 6:40 PM, EDT. Soon after, officials were informed that the raft company responsible for the rafts had not been able to account for 150 of the 200 people who had gone out on the river.
A Carbon County dispatcher said at about 8 p.m., “They said 200 rafters had gone out and only had 55 had returned. We’re trying to account for 150. So it’s a big thing happening right now. We’re trying to account for everybody.”