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Boy, 17, Drowns While Trying To Cross Lawrence Co. Creek

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Mary Robb Jackson Mary Robb Jackson
Mary Robb Jackson joined KDKA-TV as a general assignment reporter in...
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SLIPPERY ROCK TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – Rescue crews recovered the body of a teenage boy from a creek in Lawrence County on Sunday.

According to police, 17-year-old John Durnell was swimming with friends in Slippery Rock Creek around 4:30 p.m.

He was trying to swim across the creek when the strong current pulled him under.

Other people who were swimming in the area heard his cries for help.

“Someone jumped in, no one saw what happened. Everyone heard the word ‘help,’ and then everyone looked and the kid was gone,” Morgan Lukavich said.

The area is a popular swimming spot with a rope swing.

State troopers called at Karla and Greg Durnell’s home Sunday night to tell them about their son.

“The state trooper the one in uniform, his face was all balled up and he had tears about to come out,” Greg Durnell said. “He felt really, really bad.”

State Police, emergency responders and a rescue diving team went into the water. After 25 minutes, they recovered Durnell’s body.

Karla Durnell says she hopes others can learn from the tragedy.

“You’re gonna die if you go down there,” she said. “So any other kids, don’t go near that water.”

Growing up in the country, John learned patience by fishing and trapping with his uncle and father. He was also a fair hand with a pencil, drawing an elaborate picture of a dog for his sister, and wanted to join the military and become a gunsmith.

And just on the brink of becoming a man, John Wayne Durnell had recently gotten a brand new suit. It’s the same one he’ll be buried in.

“People ask what they can do and I just said, ‘don’t forget him,'” Greg Durnell said.

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