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Merced boy drowns after jumping into Bear Creek

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG
Family members of a 15-year-old boy, wait as emergency personnel look for the young boy in Bear Creek on Thursday, April 15, 2010 afternoon.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG Family members of a 15-year-old boy, wait as emergency personnel look for the young boy in Bear Creek on Thursday, April 15, 2010 afternoon. Merced Sun-Star

A 15-year-old Merced High School student drowned Thursday after jumping into Bear Creek, Merced police reported.

The Merced County Coroner's Office identified the boy as Xeng Xiong of Merced.

Merced police, Merced Fire Department and Riggs Ambulance Service responded to a section of Bear Creek near Auto Center Drive after police dispatch received a call at 11:08 a.m. The boy was pulled from the water at 11:41 a.m. and pronounced dead at Mercy Medical Center at 12:37 p.m., according to Cmdr. Floyd Higdon.

Paramedics performed CPR and worked tirelessly to save the boy's life, but to no avail. Meanwhile, his family and friends gathered near the banks of the creek, some collapsing with grief, while others stood in shock and disbelief.

The boy's friends, Nhia Xiong, 15, and Xavier Moua, 15, said they'd skipped school and were with the victim when he jumped into the water. The boys said the victim was struggling to stay above water and yelled that he needed help.

Nhia Xiong and Moua said they jumped into the water and tried to rescue their friend. Moua said he was able to grab his friend briefly. But he was unable to hold on, and Xeng Xiong slipped under the water.

Meanwhile, Nhia Xiong said he ran to a nearby car dealership for help.

Higdon said the victim had entered the water fully dressed and had tried removing some of the clothes, but was dragged under. Higdon said the victim was underwater for about 30 minutes before he was recovered.

The water in the creek was still, and Higdon said the depth at that section of the creek is between 6 and 8 feet.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com



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