Teacher Heidi King and a student collaborate on memorial at Roger's Landing

Exactly a year after Cesar Campuzano’s death, family and friends gathered June 6 on the dock at Rogers Landing — the site of his fatal drowning accident — to honor and remember the Chehalem Valley Middle School student.

Thanks to the efforts of teacher Heidi King, her husband, and eighth-grade student Verenice Herrera, a memorial now stands on the dock both to keep his memory alive and, hopefully, to prevent another tragic death.

The memorial is also a life ring, something that may have saved Campuzano, who could not swim and was under water for 30 minutes before being pulled from the Willamette River and revived by the Newberg Fire De­part­ment dive rescue team on June 3. He was transported to Legacy Emmanuel Hospital in Portland and died three days SETH GORDON - Honored - Members of the Campuzano family and a representative from CVMS gathered recently to dedicate a memorial to Cesar Campuzano, who died at Roger's Landing in June 2013.

“I’m very excited about the way they did it, with the time and effort to put this together,” Maria Cam­puzano, Cesar’s mother, said through an interpreter. “I am thankful of the teachers, Mrs. King and the students for how they honored Cesar. I’m very emotional and happy. It signifies that my son was very joyful and important to the state of Oregon.”

King said the idea for a more functional memorial arose at Campuzano’s funeral, where a parent suggested installing something akin to a take-a-book, leave-a-book locker, except with life jackets.

When Yamhill County officials told King, an English learner teacher who had Cesar for three years at CVMS, that would not be a possibility, a life ring was suggested as a suitable alternative.

“People don’t have to panic,” said Chris Cam­puzano, Cesar’s younger brother, who was in King’s class this last year. “You can just throw it out there so they don’t have to freak out. Plus, you don’t have to go (back to the ramp) and waste time because it’s closer. Everything’s right here.”

Herrera, a friend of Cesar’s, helped create the memorial for her eighth grade project.

About 20 family members and friends gathered at the dock to see the memorial for the first time and the consensus was that it was a fitting tribute.

“We thank everyone, the teachers, who took their time, a lot of their time, to set up a memorial for a student,” family friend Guadalupe Escalla said. “There have been people who have drowned but haven’t had a memorial in school. The parents are very satisfied that their son is important to the state of Oregon, like every other student. It’s a very good feeling from the school, very thoughtful.”

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