A 17-year-old boy who drowned in the unforgiving waters of Lynn Canyon Park Monday is being remembered as a kind and outgoing lacrosse player who had a bright future ahead of him.

Witnesses said the teenager leaped from a cliff into the rushing waters in the mid-afternoon, then struggled to get back out before eventually getting swept away in the current.

On Tuesday, friends identified the boy as Cole Marsh, a student at Terry Fox Secondary School in Port Coquitlam who was known for the way he always looked out for others.

His best friend, Tyler Simmons, even credits Marsh for saving his life at the same spot last summer.

“I knocked myself out in that exact scenario and he jumped right in and saved me,” Simmons told CTV News. “That could have been me last summer if Cole didn’t step in.”

When Simmons heard Marsh was in trouble on Monday, he drove straight to the park. The friends had been cliff jumping together countless times, and Simmons said he’d tried warning Marsh against going this early in the year.

“Anyone who’s from the North Shore knows it was too early in the season. It was a raging river,” Simmons said. “He didn’t listen. That’s why I loved him. We always talked each other into doing the craziest things.”

Marsh’s death has left many of his classmates devastated in their senior year. They said Marsh seemed like a boy who had everything – a girlfriend, a car, and a job to save for university.

Simmons said he also had an upbeat attitude that helped people through darker times.

“He always had something happy to say, always something positive to say. Even on the worst of days,” he said. “He was just one of those sorts of guys.”

‘A tragedy every year’

Several hikers said they watched Marsh leap off the cliff, and that he initially seemed fine swimming in the water.

But the spectacle soon turned to tragedy.

“We didn’t see him for a little while, started to get worried,” said Jade Holownia, who was crossing the suspension bridge at the time of Marsh’s jump. “Then he reappeared and he looked like he was in trouble and he started waving.”

Bystanders called 911, and first responders arrived quickly on scene. Marsh was still hanging onto a rock when crews started attempting to lower a floatation device into the water for him.

Then, in front of witnesses and rescuers, he appeared to lose his strength, went underwater and disappeared.

“He just started to look like he was running out of steam,” said Holownia.

A recovery operation was launched for his body, but crews were hampered by the rushing waters, and their efforts were called off until Tuesday.

North Vancouver RCMP Sgt. Doug Trousdell said the victim jumped a fence before going into the icy water below the suspension bridge. As the weather gets warmer and the park gets busier, Trousdell urged people to be cautious and obey all signs and warnings in Lynn Canyon.

“It’s a tragedy every year. We have incidents of people falling or jumping and being hurt or killed in the creek here,” Trousdell said. “We’ve got markers and plaques all over the park for people who have died in years past.”

The last fatality took place in September, when a young man drowned while swimming with a group of friends.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald and Scott Roberts