While he had some rough times in his life, 20-year-old Jeremiah Murray had been on the right path and was helping others find it, according to student ministries pastor Mike Mason.
Murray was a longtime member of CrossWinds Church in Dublin, where he had served in youth ministry along with his dad. While he had moved to Colorado about a year ago, Mason said he returned to help young people.
"(Murray) was very influential, particularly with some of the younger kids, as he was a junior high leader in the past," Mason said. "He was a very enthusiastic, go-getter type of person."
His fun-loving nature, however, may have led to his death during a popular, annual youth group houseboat trip to Shasta Lake, just north of Redding, Calif. Murray had gone scuba diving alone on the morning of Aug. 4. According to the Shasta County Sheriff's Office, Murray vanished about 70 minutes later and reportedly had about 60 minutes of air left in the tank.
Church staff is unsure how this incident will affect future trips, but said that the unfortunate tragedy will encourage them to have greater diligence.
"One thing we're trying to remind everyone is that this was a leader who took it upon himself to dive alone," Mason said. "It's not a normal part of the trip."
The group had scuba equipment on the trip, he added, because they have a certified diver check for stumps and other hazards before letting the kids swim. Mason also said that the group makes sure to have life jackets for everyone.
The youth trip ended early, with students and church leaders returning to Dublin the following afternoon.
Since returning, Mason said the students are grieving at different levels. They have access to pastoral counseling as well as services offered by other churches. The Pleasanton Unified School District also offered to help with their counselors.
"We are doing our best to make sure our kids are cared for," Mason said. "Some knew Jeremiah very well."
A celebration of life service will be held at 3 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 6 at the church, located at 6444 Sierra Court in Dublin. Head pastor John Merritt as well as family members are expected to speak, and there will be music and a media slideshow.
"He was a wonderful person," Mason said. "His life is always going to be a great testimony of faith. He was a changed person who had some rough periods in his life. And even before this tragedy, he had affected so many lives."