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Man survives 20 minutes underwater after friend allegedly pushes him into lake

Christopher Gilbert, 26, suffered serious brain injuries in near-drowning accident in Louisiana

<p> 20-year-old taken to hospital after friend allegedly pushed him into lake and spent 5 minutes underwater before being rescued” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/jOBLQsyc9U6ASHUOJs6AnQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/people_218/05819ec7934f7db0eb14beb2019056d2″/></p>
<p> 20-year-old taken to hospital after friend allegedly pushed him into lake and spent 5 minutes underwater before being rescued” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/jOBLQsyc9U6ASHUOJs6AnQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/people_218/05819ec7934f7db0eb14beb2019056d2″ class=”caas-img”/><button class=


A 20-year-old man was taken to hospital after his friend allegedly pushed him into a lake and spent five minutes underwater before being rescued.

A 26-year-old Louisiana man has been hospitalized after suffering serious brain damage following a near-drowning, with his “distraught” family and friends now calling on local authorities to take further action.

Christopher Gilbert, a recent master’s graduate from Louisiana Tech University, nearly drowned April 14 in Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville while at a nearby restaurant with friends, local newspaper KSLA reported.

Gilbert’s family says one of his friends deliberately threw him into the lake, knowing that Gilbert couldn’t swim, and that he was underwater for about 20 minutes before a passerby who was eating at the restaurant jumped into the water to pull him out, the outlet reported.

Yolanda George, the victim’s mother, told KSLA that shortly after the incident she received a call from one of the women in Gilbert’s group of friends.

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“His friend called and she was crying hysterically. She told me that Chris had fallen into the lake and was underwater for about 20 minutes,” George said, adding that her son was airlifted to Louisiana State University Medical Center for treatment.

Upon arrival at the hospital, George said doctors found Gilbert had severe brain damage from near-drowning.

“The doctor called us in and told me that by this point his brain was dead and his other organs were starting to fail. That we had been on an ECMO machine for 72 hours. It’s kind of like lung dialysis and they had to put him on a ventilator,” she recalled.

<p> Christopher Gilbert poses with his master’s degree.” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/gQWa98.Zq2vas5ftLNOLow–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/people_218/c8bb98c4faff0c1525f83fe00474d767″/></p>
<p> Christopher Gilbert poses with his master’s degree.” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/gQWa98.Zq2vas5ftLNOLow–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/people_218/c8bb98c4faff0c1525f83fe00474d767″ class=”caas-img”/><button class=


Christopher Gilbert poses with his Masters degree.

“I was devastated. I felt like my life was over at that point,” George added. “My son aspires to be a doctor, my son is going to be a doctor. He got his master’s degree in biological sciences last year. He’s getting ready for medical school, so what happened to him… I was just devastated.”

Gilbert’s mother later regained consciousness, can now eat on his own and has been temporarily taken off life support, local station KNOE reported.

The family’s attorney, Claudia Payne, told KSLA that Gilbert’s friends initially told police he fell into the lake, but further investigation revealed that a woman in the group pushed him into the water. One of the friends tried to pull Gilbert out of the water, Payne noted, but it was ultimately bystanders at the restaurant who pulled him out and performed CPR until authorities arrived.

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“In the legal realm, we characterize things as we see fit. Of course, they say it was a fool’s errand. We say it was a deliberate, criminal push into the lake,” Payne told the outlet.

Payne and Gilbert’s family also allege that members of the group of friends knew the recent graduate could not swim, despite one friend allegedly telling George, “Ma’am, I didn’t know that man couldn’t swim.”

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In a petition on Change.org that has over 2,700 signatures as of Sunday, May 5, Payne called on the Farmerville Police Department and the Union Parish Sheriff’s Office to take action by making an arrest in the case.

“While my office has been retained to represent the family in civil matters, this is all that is needed by any law enforcement agency in this jurisdiction to make an arrest,” Payne wrote. “Our office would like the community’s support in requesting that the Farmerville Police Department or the Union Parish Sheriff’s Office make an arrest of the known individual who pushed Chris into the lake.”

The Union Parish Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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