Merced Teen Drowned in Bear Creek after Skipping School

MERCED, Calif. Rescue workers tried desperately to save the teen after his own friends had also jumped in after him. But despite their best efforts, he did not survive.

Merced firefighters searched the cold water of Bear Creek for the teenage boy as his family and friends anxiously watched and waited. Two of his friends were still soaking wet after they say they tried to save the 15-year-old themselves.

The victim's friend, Xavier Mua said, "He jumped in first, and then I was trying to grab a stick, and I couldn't grab any stick, so I just jumped in with all of my clothes and everything, and I couldn't swim with my clothes on and then I came out and ran to go tell them."

The Merced High students say they had skipped school and were walking along the creek around 11:00 a.m. when their friend decided to jump in the water.

"I think he did that because his dad works over there and he was scared, but we told him that was dangerous, he could have just walked this way with us," said Mua.

The boys say they jumped in after their friend when he started struggling to stay afloat.

Mua said, "He was holding onto him, he was like grabbing onto him, but he pulled him down ... so I just tried my best."

Mua says he ran to a nearby car dealership to get help, and firefighters, police and paramedics quickly responded. Then, just minutes after we spoke to the two teens, emergency workers pulled their best friend from the water.

Cmdr. Floyd Higdon said, "As you saw the medics and fire department continued to work on him, and he has been transported to Mercy hospital."

Authorities say the teen had been in the water about 30 minutes by the time divers found him. During the search his friends had already started to wish they never skipped school.

"Regret, regret, it's just a teenage thing that everyone likes to do," said Mua.

The teen was pronounced dead at the hospital just after 12:30 Thursday afternoon.

Merced Police say they've contacted his high school and counselors will be available to speak to students Friday.

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