A 19-year-old college student from San Jose State University drowned at Eagle Lake in Sequoia National Park, the Park Service said Monday.
The Tulare County Coroner’s Office identified him as William Nguyen, 19, of San Jose.
At 3:08 p.m. Saturday, park dispatchers were notified that a satellite SOS device had been activated at Eagle Lake near Mineral King in the southern part of the park. The message indicated someone had drowned at Eagle Lake, which is about 10,000 feet elevation.
Three rangers walked 3 1/2 miles uphill to the lake and found the group, which said one of its members had drowned. The group was made up of San Jose State University students and staff who were on a school outing.
A helicopter searched for the body from above but was stymied by poor light. Sunday, the body was recovered by rangers in snorkel gear. The body was flown out and transferred to the coroner’s office.
A statement by San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian said Nguyen was a second-year kinesiology student. He was part of the college’s Outdoor Adventures recreation program.
His friends called him “Billy,” the university statement said.
“Members of the traveling party were swimming in a lake when Billy reportedly struggled and sank beneath the water’s surface,” the statement said. “The group tried unsuccessfully to rescue him.”
Nguyen was an Outdoor Adventures student assistant who had completed a training course last year so that he could serve as a student leader this year, the statement said. He was among five staff members on this trip.
“He has been described to me as someone who, while sometimes reserved, loved group activities and wanted to inspire others to join in and be active.” the statement said. “His interests included fitness and outdoors activities. He enjoyed working out and getting others to do the same.”
A total of 16 park staff assisted with the search and recovery operations. The incident is under investigation.