Sonora sixth-grader dies in accident

An 11-year-old Costa Mesa girl died when two personal watercraft collided over the weekend on the Colorado River near Laughlin, Nev., authorities said Monday.

Samantha Nguyen, a sixth-grader at Sonora Elementary School, was at the river with her father, Vince Nguyen, according to Newport-Mesa Unified School District officials. He

sustained severe injuries in the accident.

Samantha, her father and another girl were riding a Jet Ski-type vehicle near the Emerald River Golf Course in Laughlin on Saturday morning, followed by a group in a similar watercraft said Doug Nielsen, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

"The vessel in front stopped, and the second vessel didn't, and collided with the first vessel and knocked all three people off the first vessel," Nielsen said.

The second vessel was traveling about 20 or 25 mph at the time, he said.

Nielsen said he believes the people involved are family or extended family members from Orange County.

He said officials pronounced Samantha dead at Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in nearby Bullhead City, Ariz.

Authorities transported Vince Nguyen, 45, to a hospital in Las Vegas, where he was treated for severe injuries. He is in critical condition, according to Newport-Mesa Unified spokeswoman Laura Boss.

Nielsen declined to identify the other girl or detail her injuries.

Sunday night, school officials notified families of Samantha's classmates about the death.

Sonora Principal Christine Anderson recorded a message sent to the homes of all sixth-graders at the school.

"It's with great sadness that I make this phone call today," she said. "It is a call I hoped to never have to make."

Counselors will be on campus throughout the week to help students, according to the message.

"Our thoughts and love go out to the Nguyen family at this time, and Samantha will be deeply missed here at Sonora," Anderson said.

Samantha's brother attends Costa Mesa Middle School, Boss said.

Nielsen said everyone involved in the crash was wearing a life jacket, something that may have avoided further tragedy.

"As severe as the situation is, it could have been worse," he said


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