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Cuero teen apparent drowning victim Friday in Guadalupe River

By Sonny Long
May 14, 2010 at 12:14 a.m.

Parents of missing 16-year-old Jeremy Perez wait while  holding each other as rescue crews search for him on the Guadalupe River near Cuero. Jeremy was reported missing after friends lost sight of him while swimming in the river earlier in the day.

EMERGENCY PERSONNEL IN CUERO HAVE BUSY DAY

While rescue efforts were ongoing for an apparent drowning victim near Cuero, DeWitt County dispatchers were busy with two other emergency calls.

At 1:50 p.m., a motorist reported a funnel cloud touched down about six miles east of Yorktown. The tornado was not confirmed and no emergency units were dispatched.

At 1:53 p.m., a house fire was reported at 2004 state Highway 72 E. The unoccupied mobile home caught fire when the owner was burning trash nearby and it got out of control, according to dispatch records. The Yorktown Fire Department responded to the fire.

Online

To see video of the scene of the apparent drowning near Cuero, go to www.victoriaadvocate.com and click on the story.

CUERO - A 16-year-old Cuero High School student is believed to have drowned Friday morning while swimming in the Guadalupe River.

Recovery efforts to find Jeremy Perez will continue at first light Saturday after rescuers searched for him from about noon until 5:45 p.m. Friday. Perez was swimming underneath the state Highway 72 bridge just outside Cuero.

"All evidence points that this is going to be a recovery. We don't think he made it out of the river. We expect to recover a body at some point," said DeWitt County Sheriff Jode Zavesky. "We'll continue for the next day or two if necessary."

Witnesses told the sheriff that Jeremy and five friends were swimming when Jeremy began to drift away from the group. Friday was a bad weather day for the Cuero school district and there were no classes.

"Apparently he got caught up in a pretty good current," said Zavesky. "They tried to get to him but couldn't. They last saw him 275 to 300 yards down river."

Rescuers from the Cuero Fire Department, the Texas Park and Wildlife game warden stationed in Dewitt County and divers from the Victoria Fire Department attempted to locate Jeremy, said the sheriff. A Department of Public Safety helicopter from Corpus Christi also traversed the river's route looking for the teen.

"We checked both sides of the river to try to find where he might have come out. If he had gotten out, we'd known it," Zavesky said.

The teen's parents stood vigil during the search.

The parents declined to talk to the Advocate.

Inclement weather hampered the rescue effort as heavy rain and lightning forced rescuers off the river more than once.

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