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Neighbor: I thought drowned boy was playing

By Colin Steiner, csteiner@krcrtv.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 09:09:56 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 09 2014 02:07:30 AM CDT
GRIDLEY, Calif. -

A 12-year-old Gridley boy is dead after drowning in a canal Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Butte County Sheriff's Office the boy was swimming in an irrigation ditch a little after 3 p.m. southeast of Gridley near Humble and Archer Avenues when he became trapped in a pipe.

Neighbors heard the boy's friend frantically calling for help.

"They play all the time. At first I thought they were playing but he just kept screaming," said Larry Loughmiller, whose home sits just in front of the canal.

Loughmiller and three others heeded the cries, including a man named Zach who tried heroically to save him.

"I took off running and Zach took off running and his little daughter, and Zach jumped right in right away. And (Zach's) uncle, the both of them couldn't move him."

A sheriff's official said the boy was underwater for approximately 30 minutes before he was pulled from the canal.

"It took I think about six fireman and they could just pull him out a little bit at a time," Loughmiller said.

The boy was taken to a hospital where he was soon pronounced dead.

Loughmiller, who was born and raised in the Archer Avenue area and swam in the canals as a child, says they can be treacherous if precautions aren't taken around pipes draining into fields.

"Getting in front of those pipes, they're very swift. When they're wide open there's a big current, it's like an undertow and it could suck you in."

The Sheriff's Office says they've had deputies in the area recently to warn children not to swim in the canals due to possible dangers.

An investigation into the incident is underway.