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Sutherlin Child Feared Dead

Personnel from Halifax County Emergency Services, South Boston Police and the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office are on standby to assist Danville officials in the search for a 5-year-old Sutherlin child feared drowned following a boating accident Monday afternoon. Danville Emergency Services personnel responded to a boating accident early Monday afternoon after a fishing boat capsized throwing the occupants, Kolton Brim Karnes, age 5, of 313 Rodgers Road, Sutherlin and his father, into the water.

At approximately 1:21 p.m. Monday afternoon the Emergency Operations Center in Danville received a 911 call reporting a boat had capsized in the Dan River behind the Danville Utilities Department property on Monument Street. A dam runs the length of the river from the Danville Utilities Department property and extends to the walking trail in Dan Daniel Park. A fishing boat turned over at the base of the waterfall, and a young Karnes and his father were thrown into the water, according to a Danville Police Department spokesman.

Two bystanders were in the park, saw the man frantically trying to get his son out of the water, and immediately rushed into the water to assist. The current at the base of the falls was extremely turbulent and ripped the child out of his life vest and out of the arms of at least one of the men as it carried all of them under.
Despite their efforts they were unable to get the boy out of the water, said a Danville Police spokesman.

The Danville Fire Department, Danville Life Saving Crew, and Danville Police Department responded and began rescue operations, which were extremely difficult due to the turbulent waters. At one point during the operation, the spokesman said a boat being operated by Water Rescue personnel with the Danville Life Saving Crew also capsized in the general area where the man and his son went into the water.

Two members were transported to Danville Regional Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries as well as aviation support from the Virginia State Police also responded to assist.

The operation shifted from that of a rescue to that of recovery, and the search for young Karnes continued Tuesday. Police personnel and rescue personnel remained on the scene in Danville at press time Tuesday, the spokesman said.

Kirby Saunders, Halifax County emergency services coordinator, said Department of Game and Inland Fisheries personnel searched the river around Paces by boat Monday. He also said emergency personnel in Halifax County continue to monitor the river and are ready to assist in the search and recovery when needed.