Merced River drowning victim identified

A man who drowned Thursday while swimming in the Merced River has been identified as 21-year-old Jack Xiong of Merced.

The Merced County Coroner’s Office confirmed the victim’s identity after notifying his family.

Xiong was swimming with a group of people Thursday afternoon in the Cunho Fishing Access area of the Merced River near Snelling.

Merced County sheriff’s deputies said the man was on a rope swing and started calling out for help after splashing down into the river. He disappeared underwater for more than 15 minutes before he was pulled from the water. His friends called for help and performed CPR.

Sheriff’s deputy Delray Shelton said emergency responders were delayed because of the area’s remote location. They were taken to the scene by employees of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Xiong was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.