12-year-old drowns in Gridley canal

GRIDLEY, Calif. - A 12-year-old boy drowned in a Gridley 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 on Archer Avenue when he became trapped in a pipe.

When a neighbor heard the boy's friend calling for help.

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

Loughmiller and three others headed 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 water

"It took I think about six fireman and they could just pull him out 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 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.

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