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5-YEAR-OLD NORTH LAS VEGAS BOY DIES OF APPARENT DROWNING

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Date: September 12, 2011
Contact: Andrew S. Muñoz, (702) 293-8691

LAS VEGAS - National Park Service investigators believe the apparent drowning of a 5-year-old North Las Vegas boy at Lake Mead was accidental. The boy, identified as Ewign Cruz-Diaz, was playing in shallow water on the lake shore in the Government Wash area when he went missing yesterday afternoon.

Park rangers responded at about 3:00 p.m. Sunday to a report of a drowning on Lake Mead. The caller didn't know exactly where they were in the park. It took rangers about 35 minutes to locate the party at Government Wash.

The boy was at the lake with family. Members of the party stated that part of their group went off to another cove to fish and swim, leaving the boy with his mother. A man from the group returned and noticed that the boy wasn't around and he asked the mother if she knew where he was at. It was at that point that they realized he might be underwater. The man donned goggles and began searching underwater, he located the boy's body minutes later.

CPR was attempted but wasn't successful. Investigators believe the boy had been underwater between 20 and 40 minutes. The boy's body was already out of the water when rangers arrived on scene.

"What is most tragic about this is that the mother had a life jacket for the boy. She thought it wasn't needed because he wasn't in deep water and she could watch him," said Supervisory Park Ranger Prashant Lotwala.

Park rangers recommend that all children wear U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets while they are in, on or near the water. There are no lifeguards on Lake Mead or Lake Mohave, so parents must keep an eye on their children while they're in the water.

"While we believe this death is accidental, it was entirely preventable. With the excitement of being at the lake, it's easy to lose track of children. A life jacket doesn't take the place of a parent's watchful eye. It does provide a safety net in case parents get distracted and the child gets away from them," said Lotwala.

Park rangers say it only takes a teaspoon of water and less than 20 seconds for someone to drown.

The Clark County Corner will determine the official cause of death.

- NPS -

Did You Know?

A Bighorn Sheep

Desert Bighorn sheep live in matriarchal societies. A dominant female leads a herd, which for much of the year consists primarily of ewes and their lambs. The rams tend to stay together in bachelor groups until the summer breeding season.