Update: Family remembers man who drowned in Coralville Lake - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Update: Family remembers man who drowned in Coralville Lake

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KWWL) - Johnson County authorities continue to look into the circumstances in the drowning death of a 35-year-old Iowa City man this weekend.

The body of Somphaeng “Meo” Syvixay was pulled from the Coralville Lake just before 9 p.m. Saturday.

“We heard ‘We found him,’" said Connie Phommaly, Syvixay’s cousin. “Only to find out that they were pulling the body out of the water.”

Phommaly says she got a text message she will never forget.

“Uncle Meo is missing, he went out boating and he’s missing,” she said.

Family members told her Syvixay, who they call “Meo,” jumped in the lake from a boat to help another swimmer struggling, and moments later he never resurfaced.

First responders were called to the area of the diving rock near Scales Pointe just before 5 p.m.

“Maybe he had made it to shore, maybe he was just lying somewhere,” said Phommaly. “We were screaming his name the whole way saying ‘Meo, Meo, if you can hear us let us know.’”

She says they never heard from Meo.

It took rescue crews nearly four hours before recovering his body from Coralville Lake Saturday night.

Family members say it's already been a difficult time for them because Syvixay's father died just more than a month ago.

Phommaly says Meo was a father who gave the world to his 2-year old son, and his wife, Danielle

“What Meo has always wanted his whole life is his son,” said Phommaly. “You always saw him carrying him. In our culture, our parents always say you don’t carry your kids all the time. He didn’t care what was supposed to happen as a parent.”

The family says they have to stay strong to support Meo's wife and son. 

“I think about this little one and I have to be positive for him,” said Dora Kouangothonh, another cousin. “If I could close my eyes and think about him right now I could just hear him laugh or have a funny joke to say.”

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office said this is an ongoing investigation. An autopsy is pending.
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