Merced High student jumps in creek, drowns

MERCED — 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.

Emergency responders went to a section of Bear Creek near Auto Center Drive after police got a call about the boy 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., Cmdr. Floyd Higdon said.

Paramedics worked to resuscitate Xeng, but to no avail. His family and friends gathered near the banks of the creek, some collapsing with grief, others standing in shock and disbelief.

The boy's friends, Nhia Xiong and Xavier Moua, both 15, said they had skipped school and were with Xeng when he jumped into the water.

The boys said Xeng was struggling to stay above water and yelled that he needed help. Nhia and Xavier said they jumped into the water and tried to rescue their friend.

Xavier said he was able to grab his friend briefly. But he was unable to hold on, and Xeng slipped under the water.

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

Higdon said Xeng had entered the water fully dressed and had tried removing some of the clothes, but he was dragged under.

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