A witness says two of the teens who drowned in a paddle boat excursion had missed a previous boat trip and wanted a chance to go on the river.

Jonathan Miller, 16, tells the Chicago Sun-Times he stayed on the Fox River bank because he can't swim.

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Three students drowned early Friday when their boats filled with water: 17-year-old Melvin Choice, 18-year-old Jimmy Avant and 16-year-old Adrian Jones.

The victims were high-achievers at Chicago's North Lawndale College Prep school.

They were at a leadership retreat for young black men northwest of the city and snuck away from sleeping chaperones.

Miller says Choice was the first to fall in the river. Avant jumped in to save Choice, and Jones followed.

Two other boys paddled to shore for help. Miller says he went to tell the adults.

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