He's friends with everybody. It doesn't matter who you are. … He's a special kid. —Noy Laliemthavixay
WEST VALLEY CITY — Noy Laliemthavixay said she was scared when she saw two police officers at the door of her home around 8 p.m. Sunday.
Her fears were confirmed when she was told that her 26-year-old son, Tommy, had been missing since 3 p.m., when he went under the surface of the water at Pineview Reservoir.
"While the police were here, the detective called and said they had already found his body," Laliemthavixay said.
She did not know he had been at the reservoir, although Tommy Laliemthavixay usually told his mother where he was going. She said her son had a lot of close friends, but he was not with anyone she knew on Sunday.
"He's friends with everybody," she said. "It doesn't matter who you are. He's a special kid."
Police said Tommy Laliemthavixay was swimming out to a buoy at Pineview Reservoir with friends when he began to struggle. He went under the water near Cemetery Point and did not resurface.
Laliemthavixay said she talked to someone who told her he had tried to help her son.
"He said he went to him and got a hold of him, but then he said he was too heavy, that my son was too heavy," she said. "So he let my son down and came back up to get help and by the time he got some people to go down and help, the body was already gone."
Tommy Laliemthavixay's death was initially ruled as an accident, with officials saying that exhaustion may have been a contributing factor. The Utah Medical Examiner's Office was scheduled to examine his body.
She said her son was fit, often exercised and was an OK swimmer. As a nursing student at Salt Lake Community College, he was always eager to help others, she said.
His mother hopes he will be remembered as a "happy kid" who had a good life.
"He will be greatly missed by his friends, his younger brother," Noy Laliemthavixay said. "He will be missed by me. Everywhere I go, I will always expect him to come home."
Contributing: Emiley Morgan