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Mother files claim with city over son's drowning
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The mother of the boy who drowned in the Tuolumne River on March 9 is suing the city of Ceres, claiming it is partly responsible.

Debra Coito filed a claim against the city on Sept. 7, saying the city did not maintain nor repair the Dennett Dam in the river where her son's body was discovered.

Jeremy Wilson,13, drowned when he was rafting in the chilly river on March 9.

The city maintains that it has never been responsible for the dam.

Since the 1970s there has been a breach in the dam that causes a strong current over the center of the remnants of the dam. Wilson's raft was swept into the current and the boy fell or jumped off.

Coito is being represented by the Redwood City law firm of Carcione, Cattermole, Dolinski.

The Ceres City Council denied the claim at its Oct. 8 meeting. The denial triggers a six-month period in which she can file suit.

Witnesses said that Wilson and three friends, aged 12 to 14 years old, had been playing by the river behind a trailer park just east of the bridge. It is unknown why the boys were not in school.

Witnesses said Wilson jumped into an inflatable raft and began to float down river. The boy was not wearing a life vest.

The three friends followed along the south shore of the bank as the boy floated along. According to the boys, Wilson saw that he was floating toward a drop-off at a spillway and tried to maneuver the raft to the shoreline. When it became apparent that he would not make it to the shore before reaching the spillway, Jeremy jumped out of the raft and attempted to swim ashore.

The strong current pulled the boy and the empty raft over the spillway. The friends said that Jeremy floated for about 30 yards before being caught on some debris under the water. He shouted to his friends for help and then was dragged underwater. Jeremy resurfaced after a few seconds and again yelled for help. The other boys started to wade into the water to help, but did not get far before the strong current forced them back to the shore.

Wilson was submerged for a second time and resurfaced after just a few seconds. The boy was then dragged under a third time but never resurfaced. A witness at a nearby trailer park noticed what was going on and called 911.

According to divers, the current had carved out a large bowl at the bottom of the river behind the dam. The boy's body was located just inside the crest of this bowl and was pinned to the bottom by the river's current as it flowed over some underwater debris.