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Vigil for South Grand Prairie graduate Chung draws hundreds

More than 300 friends and family members of Lisa Tam Chung met at a flagpole at South Grand Prairie High School to release balloons, sing, cry and share memories of a dear friend on Wednesday.

Chung, 18, died Tuesday at Methodist Medical Center in Dallas. The Dallas County medical examiner’s office ruled that she died as a result of an accidental drowning.

“Her mother is beginning to accept her loss now that she is around friends and family,” said Chung’s aunt, Kim Dao. “She is still grieving. No parent wants to bury their children.”

Chung and a group of classmates were on a post-graduation trip Saturday when the catamaran they were on partially sank near Cancun, Mexico. The boat carried approximately 120 passengers who were on a snorkeling cruise.

One youth said he saw two of his friends, Loren Dailey and Chung, in the water holding onto a rope tied between the tourist boat and a rescue vessel. When the rope straightened and lifted the two girls halfway out of the water, they let go, said John Cosme, one of the teens on the tour. Another boat went over the two girls, Cosme said, and he jumped in to help them. Cosme said he saw Dailey pulled into a rescue boat. He lost sight of Chung until she was on shore and being attended to by medical personnel, reportedly suffering heart and lung failure from nearly drowning.

“Lisa was a very brilliant person,” said Rick Rigby, who spoke at the vigil. “She was clever and quick-witted. Three years in a row, she was voted class favorite. This is difficult because we all know that at any given moment, something like this could happen to us.”

A fund in Chung’s name has been established at Grand Bank in Grand Prairie and Dallas to help the family defray expenses associated with Chung’s death.

This report contains information from Star-Telegram archives.