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Student's Death at Lake Mead

August 18, 1997

Re "Fraternity at UCLA Shut by National Board," July 10: I'm the father of Brian Toshio Sanders, the UCLA student who lost his life in his effort to save another fraternity member, Brian Thomas Pearce, at Lake Mead on May 17. Your article further saddens our hearts that have not even begun to heal.

The article implies that our son Brian simply drowned at the lake, diving off a 20-foot cliff as a possible alcohol-related accident. That is incorrect. Based on the park ranger report and my discussions with rangers and other fraternity students who were at the scene of the incident, an account of what transpired is as follows:

Around 7 p.m., when Pearce took a flip-and-a half dive off the cliff, he apparently landed badly and drowned. Then several other fraternity members, including our son, swam over to the scene and dove into the lake to search and rescue Pearce. Apparently our son Brian was very determined to save Pearce and exhaustively dove deeper than anybody else. At the end of some 20 minutes of his repeated dives, our son did not resurface. Our son's last words, according to one other diver, were "We have to get this guy!" All fraternity eyewitnesses state that it was a heroic act on our son's part.

As sad as it was, it took someone like our son Brian who had a genuine heart for helping others and at the same time possessed athletic skills to earnestly attempt to save someone from the bottom of the deep, cold lake. Its depth was later determined by the park and recreation department to be 39 feet.

EDWIN H. SANDERS

San Carlos

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