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They laid down their lives
Mark Darrough and daughter Jessica Darrough died the way they lived - serving others like Jesus did. Drawing on John 15:13 in the Bible, Ceres Seventh-day Adventist Pastor Keith Mulligan noted that the father-daughter drowning victims demonstrated the ultimate in love: Giving their lives up for another.

Several hundred persons filled the sanctuary to bid farewell to the Darroughs, who drowned March 16 in a church youth trip accident at Monastery Beach at the Carmel River State Beach Park. The South Modesto residents were among those who jumped into the water trying to rescue a 13-year-old teen girl who was swept into the surf by a large wave.

Mark Darrough, 47, died after being overcome by the icy and choppy ocean tide and wasn't pulled from the water for 37 minutes. Jessica Darrough, 23, died at a Monterey hospital on March 18, after being in the water for 15 minutes.

The girl who first went into the surf was rescued by Seaside resident Noe Gomez. Two of three others in the Ceres group who jumped in to save the girl were injured and treated for exposure at the hospital.

As family and friends lined up to file past the pair of open caskets, Sheri Darrough, Mark's widow, gave comfort with hugs and words. Later in the service, Pastor Mulligan read a statement from Sheri intended to bring peace to those who were involved in the tragic event on the beach.

"Everything was done that could be done - there's no blame," wrote Sheri Darrough. "This was an accident."

She also said: "This is all beyond our understanding. But the Lord is with us and seeing us through."

Mulligan shared that "God has been a walk of strength to Sheri and in turn Sheri has been a walk of strength to everyone else."

Jessica Darrough was portrayed as a young woman with an exuberant Christian faith. "Jessica loved Jesus and that made her to love people," said her pastor. She was active in church circles and enjoyed her role in the Pathfinder Club, which is for children aged 10 to 14. Jessica would often participate in the Angel Tree project during the holidays, buying and delivering gifts for the children of incarcerated parents. Her heart melted for animals. She often took injured birds to the Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center and tried to find homes for lost dogs.

An avid listener of KADV, the Ceres Adventist radio station, Jessica was excited when she got to shake hands with Lonnie Melashenko, director-speaker for the Voice of Prophecy, the world's second oldest religious broadcast. Melashenko learned about Jessica's death and sent a message read at the funeral. He said "We are a family and that's why it hurts so deeply." Melashenko said her mourners "cling to that blessed hope ... what more can we do?"

Others took turns tearfully recalling what wonderful people Mark and Jessica were.

Hector Gomez, one of the Pathfinder leaders who was on the beach outing, said he spoke to Jessica at the first beach the group visited that day. As the two walked along the water on Point Lobos, Jessica told him how she would like to one day be married at a beach ceremony.

Mark had a big heart for others. His father, Pastor Ralph Darrough, said he was amazed at the tenderness of his son at a young age. His pastor said he was very serious about his faith and responsibilities to his church.

"He was one of the most gentle persons in the world," said his father-in-law, Emmett Bush of South Modesto. "I never heard him say one bad word about anyone. He was a very loving son and very loving son-in-law and he will be greatly missed by all of us."