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By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

July 17, 2013 -- When Santa Monica native and recent college grad Jesus Torres went for a swim in the bay June 30, his life took an unexpected turn.

On that day, 21-year-old Torres, an alum of Santa Monica's Police Activities League (PAL), drowned off of Santa Monica's coast.

While rescuers were able to revive Torres, who had graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz six days earlier, he has been in the Intensive Care Unit at Santa Monica's UCLA campus ever since.

With the Torres family facing mounting medical bills, the Santa Monica Police Department, the Fire Department and PAL are asking residents to help.

On Wednesday, the California Pizza Kitchen at 210 Wilshire Boulevard will donate 20 percent of every purchase to the Torres Family Fund when patrons present this flyer, officials said.

“The family is honored that different entities within the city are stepping up to help their son,” said Lt. Richard Lewis, the Police Department spokesman.

In the past week, Lewis said, Torres has shown signs of recovery.

Authorities believe that Torres, who was swimming with friends, was caught in a riptide after his friends returned to shore.

“He's actually a very good swimmer,” said Lewis, adding that Torres is a generally athletic person.

Torres had an impact on those he met growing up in Santa Monica, police officials said.

“Jesus has touched the lives of all those around him, including those that mentored him,” officials said. “He represents a vital component to any organization, community or family.”

A product of the Santa Monica school system, Torres graduated from Santa Monica High School in 2009 and was the first of his family to graduate from college, majoring in both Anthropology and Psychology.

Torres took an active interest in leadership and civic roles, becoming “a valuable member of the Santa Monica Community,” officials said. Torres joined PAL and the Santa Monica Police Explorer Post, which allows young people in communities around the country to experience what it is like to be a law enforcement officer.

Torres not only participated in these programs, he excelled, officials said.

“During his four years at PAL, Jesus served on the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) and was President for two years,” officials said. “He was selected to represent Santa Monica PAL at California PAL’s Sacramento Experience where he was selected to be a workshop leader.”

During his seven years with the Explorer Post, Torres achieved the rank of Corporal and would often mentor new recruits, according to officials.

“Jesus was an excellent role model to all who joined the SMPD Explorer program,” officials said.

Though he went away to college, he never lost touch with his roots, continuing his work with PAL and the Explorers during his breaks from school, officials said.

“He intuitively knows what needs to be done and immediately gets to work in making it happen,” officials said. “He is a person who leads by example, never forcefully, but always a leader in spirit.”

PAL, the SMPD, the Fire Department and other local entities are doing their part to help Torres.

While the California Pizza Kitchen fundraiser may be for a day only, people can donate directly to the Torres Family Fund by mailing checks to:

Jesus Torres Fund
C/O Box Santa Monica PAL
1401 Olympic Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA. 90404

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