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Recovering Drug Addict, 17, Drowns at Pyramid Lake

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 17-year-old Arizona boy drowned while swimming with his church group despite a quick response from rescuers, a doctor and the doctor’s respiratory therapist wife, Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies said.

Deputies stationed nearby pulled the body of Jason Diaz from the 13-feet-deep lake after he had been submerged for 15 to 20 minutes Monday afternoon. Diaz and another boy from the church group swam to a buoy line about 60 feet from shore, but Diaz began flailing on the way back, Deputy Cathy Hock said.

“The other boy said, ‘Grab on to my legs,’ ” but Diaz couldn’t hold on and went under, Hock said. “I couldn’t tell you if he got tired, or had a cramp or what.”

The other boy swam to the beach and alerted others that Diaz was drowning, Hock said.

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Two California Highway Patrol officers called the sheriff’s station at the lake and Deputy Mike Hardy, a certified rescue diver, splashed into the water eight minutes later.

After a six-minute underwater search, Hardy found Diaz and rushed him to shore in a motorboat, Hock said. Waiting on shore were a doctor and his wife, a respiratory therapist, who happened to be swimming with their children at the lake Monday.

“He couldn’t have had more help out there,” Hock said. The couple and Los Angeles County firefighters began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and continued for about 20 minutes, deputies said.

A county fire helicopter flew the boy to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

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Diaz was a recovering drug addict who had recently found religion and had been testifying at local churches with the group Teen Reach, members told deputies.

Diaz’s parents flew in Monday evening from Benson, Ariz., to retrieve the body, deputies said.


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