Friend talks to 3TV about ASU student who drowned at Verde River

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

VERDE RIVER – 3TV is learning more about the Arizona State University student who lost his life trying to cross the Verde River on spring break.

The 22-year-old's body was found Wednesday in the Fossil Creek area between Camp Verde and Strawberry.

John Fisher II and his friends thought they had prepared for everything. Among the group of eight who went camping there were four lifeguards and a practicing nurse.

They even brought a life jacket and rope just in case things got out of hand.

Coleman Rice, a friend, explains. Everybody had gone outdoors. Everybody had loved to camp. Everybody had loved to go swimming."

Coleman tells 3TV it was the second day of this camping trip when they decided to cross the same water they did just a little more than 24 hours earlier. However this time it was later in the afternoon and, because of the melting snow from the north, the current had really picked up speed.

Everyone made it across the freezing water except John who got stuck in the branches of a tree downstream. Rice says, “He could barely stand and he couldn’t move past the tree."

They tried tossing him a life vest and the rope but they say the current was just too powerful. Rice explains, “The last throw I threw the rope and he caught hold of it just barely and when he went out with the rope, the rope either snapped or slipped through his hands and we just watched him float through the trees and I lost sight of him."

They say there was nothing they could do. After a few hours of searching rescue crews found his body hung up on another tree midstream.

Rice admits, “It was the worst news I have ever heard in my entire life. I am just going to miss him so much."
3TV has learned the 22-year-old was an outdoors-type guy born and raised in Flagstaff.

He was about to graduate to become an advanced placement United States history teacher.

His friends feel hypothermia probably played a role in his death and his friends wanted to make it very clear that alcohol was not a factor. They say they were camping and did no pack any liquor. It was just supposed to be a spring break filled with fishing and hiking.