The unimaginable occurred Sunday at a Northern California lake when, as a sheriff's sergeant puts it, a 17-year-old boy "basically gave his life to save" a 12-year-old friend. The younger boy entered the water at the Lake Camanche reservoir's Eucalyptus Day Use Area, but he didn't know how to swim and started struggling to stay above water due to the uneven lake bottom, authorities say. The older teen then entered the water, retrieved the boy and got him to another swimmer nearby, but was then himself exhausted and apparently suffered a leg cramp. He went underwater and did not surface. Ultimately his body was found in 14 feet of water, about 30 feet from the shore.
"It was obviously a tragic situation," the Calaveras County Sheriff’s sergeant says, per the Los Angeles Times. "The 17-year-old basically gave his life to save the 12-year-old, which was a heroic act. It was a very emotional scene with the family and friends there." The victim was reportedly on vacation in the area at the time, MyMotherLode.com reports. It was the second fatal drowning in the county in 15 days, and authorities are reminding those who visit the areas lakes and other bodies of water to always use a life vest and to supervise anyone who isn't a strong swimmer. (Read more California stories.)