NEW BETHLEHEM (KDKA) – Friends gathered to remember a 17-year-old boy who drowned in Clarion County.

The teen was playing basketball with some friends Saturday night when he decided to take a dip in the Red Bank Creek to cool off.

First responders were able to get to the area quickly, but it was too late and he was pronounced dead at Clarion Hospital.

According to authorities, Brandon Fuller was trying to swim across the river to go jump off a rock with some friends.

Firefighters rushed to Gumtown Park around 8 p.m. and found a chaotic scene.

“There [were] people crying and running around and pointing where they last [saw] him and that’s where we started and did recover him,” Rich Shilling from the New Bethlehem Fire Department said.

Firefighters said Fuller was unresponsive when they pulled him out of the water. It’s a tragedy his friends are only beginning to mourn.

“I was supposed to be down here swimming with him, but, I went to a cookout. I mean, he was the kind of guy who would do anything for you,” Logan Shumaker said.

Shumaker said Fuller would have turned 18 on Tuesday. It was supposed to be a celebration, but it will now be a reminder of the teen’s untimely passing.

It is something community members say they take to heart.

“To be in our hometown, in our creek, to be swimming, and having fun, and end up drowning, it’s certainly heartbreaking for everybody in the town. We love the Gumtown Park and the dam, and it’s just really, really sad,” Jamie Lefever said.

Police said the drowning is an awful reminder to never overestimate one’s ability in the unstable waters.

“The dam is real close by, so, if you’re not a strong swimmer, it’s a perilous task to do,” Officer Michael Greenlee said.

A perilous task that took the life of a teen who his friends said could light up a room with his humor.

“They need to know what kind of joker he was, and always willing to make someone laugh,” Sarah Shick said.

A cross is just the beginning of how friends said they plan to remember Fuller.

On Tuesday, they will hold a full memorial service at the creek.


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