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Friends recall Myrtle Beach area teen who drowned as likable classmate

Friends of a 15-year-old boy who drowned in the Intracoastal Waterway near the Socastee swing bridge remembered him as being the class clown at Socastee High School.

A preliminary autopsy showed Monday that Kevin Samir Duarte, who lived on Forestbrook Road in the Myrtle Beach section of Horry County, died of asphyxiation by drowning, said Horry County Deputy Coroner Tony Hendrick.

Because Duarte liked to joke with his friends, they said Monday at first they did not believe news of his death. Jennifer Federovitch and Heather Hollister, who had known Duarte since sixth grade, each said they thought he was pulling a prank on them when another friend called to tell them about his death.

"He was so funny. He was the class clown. It hasn't really hit me yet. I can't picture him gone," Federovitch said.

"We're going to miss him really, really badly."

Federovitch said she and Hollister would meet Duarte after school at Taco Bell before he went to soccer and track practices during the school year.

"He was always fun to be around. He was always cracking jokes. He was really smart," Hollister said. "We're going to miss him a lot. Life is not going to be the same without him ... going to school and not seeing his face, it won't be the same."

Authorities got a call about 2:45 p.m. Sunday saying someone had jumped or dived from the bridge into the waterway and didn't resurface, said Lt. Robert McCullough with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

The incident is being considered a swimming accident, he said.