ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A 19-year-old man who was in critical condition after being rescued from the Meramec River in St. Louis County on Memorial Day has died, officials said.
First responders rushed to Castlewood State Park in west county Monday afternoon for a report of a person who went under the water.
A 19-year-old man was on the bank of the river and slid into the water, according to a spokesperson with the Metro West Fire Protection District. The man was underwater for 15 minutes, witnesses said.
Emergency crews arrived at the scene as friends were pulling the man out of the water. He was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition, the fire official said.
A Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesperson said the man died Monday evening. He was identified Tuesday as Juan Sajbin.
Officials with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources also responded to the scene.
In July 2021, a 16-year-old girl drowned in the Meramec at Castlewood. A few weeks before, a 30-year-old man jumped off a train bridge near Sherman Beach just west of the park and never resurfaced.
While the investigation into Monday's case is still unfolding, officials said there were a couple of critical lessons to be learned, starting with being aware of what is underneath the water.
"There are currents that'll pull people out. There's debris underwater. We've had a lot of rain the last couple of weeks so there's a lot of trees and limbs underneath the water," said Lt. Matt Coppin.
Coppin also mentioned the man was not wearing a lifejacket, which he urged was essential when going into any natural body of water.
"In this case, this individual wasn't even swimming but ended up in the river, and these kinds of accidents do happen so it's such a simple thing to wear a lifejacket and it truly can save a life," Coppin added.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reports 14 deaths tied to boat and drowning incidents since the beginning of 2022. This will mark the 15th drowning.