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Simi Valley teen drowns in Yosemite after trying to rescue parents

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A 17-year-old Simi Valley boy drowned in Yosemite National Park as he attempted to rescue his parents, authorities said Thursday.

The incident is the first drowning in Yosemite this year, said park spokesman Scott Gediman. The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department identified the teen as Walter Gonzalez.

The incident occurred Sunday around 3 p.m. at a popular swimming area known as Devil’s Elbow, part of the Merced River and two miles west of Yosemite Village, authorities said.

Gediman said the boy's mother needed to be rescued after she had gone swimming, and the boy's father went in to save her. But then he also needed help.

The teen went in to rescue them and the couple ended up surviving, but the boy couldn't be revived.

“There were a lot of park visitors who tried to save them,” Gediman said.

Bystanders and park rangers who responded attempted to resuscitate the boy but were unable to do so. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

On average, there are one to two drownings a year at the park, Gediman said, adding that visitors are always warned to take precautions when they go swimming. 

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