by: Dave Faherty Updated:
HICKORY, N.C. - A student drowned Monday afternoon at a lake at Geitner-Rotary Park in Hickory.
The drowning victim, Vince Njoku, was a freshman at Lenoir-Rhyne University.
Firefighters scrambled to get down the rugged trail at Geitner-Rotary Park as others worked to get a boat in the water.
The search area was feet from the shore and not far from the trail that runs through the woods in the park.
Jonah Elliott heard the screams and dove in trying to find the missing 19-year-old student.
"We got in pretty quick but it is deep and we couldn't find him and he never resurfaced," Elliott said.
Divers found Njoku in about 13 feet of water and police believe he had jumped from some nearby rocks.
Faculty from Lenoir-Rhyne University arrived to the scene within 45 minutes of the drowning, including the head football coach.
Police said there were six to eight students in the area where the drowning happened.
Faculty and students gathered in a circle at the entrance to the park where they tried to comfort each other.
Emergency responders said the incident is a sad reminder of the importance to exercise caution near lakes this summer.
"As it is warming up there's going to be more and more people on the lake, all we can do is pray that everyone is safe," said diver Tim Stafford.
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