Jesse Yuth, an 18-year-old high school student from Signal Hill, California, died on Wednesday after trying to save a friend from drowning. Ironically, the friend he was trying to save escaped with injuries — but Jesse wasn’t as lucky. According to KTLA, moments before the tragedy, the two friends had jumped off the 50-foot Hermit Falls cliff in the Angeles National Forest while holding hands. The falls is a popular getaway for adventure seekers.
According to the report, first responders reached the spot of the tragedy at around 8:45 a.m on Wednesday, where they were told that Jesse and one of his female friends were injured after jumping off the cliff. The two were part of a group of friends enjoying a spring break in the area. It was during this trip that the duo decided to take a jump of the 50-foot cliff. Jesse had jumped off the cliff on earlier occasions safely, confirmed his cousin, David Chhom, who was also a part of the group. According to Chhom, right after hitting the water, the female friend started to drown and Jesse attempted to save her. However, he was unable to do so because he was injured himself.
“He tried to save her but the water was really cold,” Chhom said.
After seeing that the two were in trouble, Chhom jumped into the water himself. He was able to pull the girl to safety and then went back to look for Yuth. However, by the time he reached Yuth, the youngster had already succumbed to his injuries.
“He was done … gray eyes … purple lip.” he said.
According to authorities investigating the incident, it was likely that Jesse’s injuries were the result of hitting an underwater rock.
Sgt. Chaffey Shepherd from the Sherrif’s office said, “When he (Yuth) finally did come up, they noticed that he was bleeding from the nose.”
Yuth’s friend and the paramedics administered CPR to the youngster, but by then it was too late. Authorities added that two other people who were with the group were airlifted from the area and were treated for hypothermia.
Jesse Yuth was the son of a Cambodian genocide survivor, reports NBC Los Angeles. A student at the Long Beach Polytechnic High School, Yuth was planning to join the army in July. Jesse’s father called his son a hero and said he died while trying to save his friend.
Meanwhile, the latest tragedy at Hermit Falls has led to questions regarding the safety of the area as a tourist spot. The location was witness to another tragedy in 2013, when a 19-year-old student died after jumping off the cliff.
[Image via KTLA]