Two recent Arizona State University (ASU) graduates drowned while visiting a popular nature area known as Fossil Creek last week. 

The men were part of a group of 18 friends who hiked the four miles into the lower waterfalls on May 8, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) told FOX 10 Phoenix. Around 6 p.m., several nearby communication centers began receiving texts and calls to 911 about one or two men who entered the water and did not resurface, GCSO said in a press release. 

Multiple departments responded to the scene, and witnesses told first responders that two men entered the water near the falls and did not come back up. Tonto Rim Search and Rescue remained on the scene overnight. 

The next morning, two bodies were found by divers 20 feet underwater. 

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The men have been identified as 23-year-old Rakesh Reddy Lakkireddy and 25-year-old Rohith Manikanta Repala. Both graduated from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering just days before, on May 4. They were part of the school’s 4,589 spring graduates, according to a tweet from ASU dean and professor Kyle Squires.

ASU’s engineering school did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment. 

The group did not intend on doing “a lot of swimming,” but they did take a couple of life jackets with them on the hike, GSCO’s Sgt. Cole LaBonte told FOX 10. 

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Three people were reportedly standing on a peninsula when they slipped into the water. It is unclear if they knew how to swim. 

“They inadvertently got into a position that exceeded their skill level by slipping into the water,” LaBonte said. “The water was a lot deeper than they thought.”

The drownings mark the first two for Fossil Creek of the year. The area is extremely busy during the summer months, Tonto Rim Search and Rescue’s Bill Pitterle told FOX 10 over the phone. 

The rise of social media photography has led to increased crowds at Fossil Creek in recent years. The area in the Coconino National Forest requires visitors to pay fees, obtain parking permits for certain lots and make reservations from April 1 to Oct. 1. Camping is allowed during the spring-summer season in permitted areas. The closest town to Fossil Creek is Camp Verde, according to the U.S. Forest Service.