Family and friends gathered at an Army recruiting center in Long Beach on Thursday night to honor a Long Beach Polytechnic High School senior who died "a hero" on Wednesday as he tried to save the life of a female friend after the pair jumped from the top of Hermit Falls in the Angeles National Forest.
At the vigil, Jesse Yuth's grieving mother described her son as someone who was always there to help anyone who had a problem.
"He cared about others," Sambo Yuth said.
The 18-year-old was on a spring break trip to the popular cliff jumping spot with eight other people when he jumped from the 50-foot waterfall hand in hand with his friend, according to his cousin, David Chhom.
The young woman, who couldn't swim, immediately started sinking when she hit the frigid water and Yuth tried to rescue her.
When it appeared both were in trouble, Chhom and another person jumped in to help them.
Chhom managed to get the girl out of the water, but by the time he reached his cousin, Yuth's eyes were gray and his lips were purple.
The teen was also bleeding from the nose when he finally came up, and authorities indicated it was possible he had hit a rock while under water.
“All this struggle and everything … he couldn’t save himself," Yuth's father, Matthew Soth, said hours after his son's death. “He tried to save her and he … dies a hero.”
The grieving father, who at one point collapsed in tears while discussing his son, said Yuth was in ROTC at Long Beach Polytechnic. He had planned to join the Army in July, shortly after his high school graduation.
“I said, ‘Son, it’s very dangerous to go into the military, and then he told me, ‘I die for my country," Soth recalled.
A GoFundMe page set up to help cover the cost of the teen's funeral described Yuth as "bright" and having a "positive attitude in life."
"He had much love and support from his family, the students of Long Beach Polytechnic High School, and just about anybody he came into contact with," the page stated. "A guy with a masculine exterior had a soft heart for cheesecake and a respectful attitude towards women."
One woman who donated to the fund wrote on the page that she used to work out with Yuth.
She wrote that he was a "kind hearted person and always talked about how he was going to take care of his parents." With Yuth, she continued, "it was all about his future and his family."
His mom told KTLA she couldn't have asked for a better son.
"I have a good son. No matter what, he love me, he treat me very nice,” she said.