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A teenage girl at an alcohol-free post-prom party became pinned by suction to the bottom of a hot tub and drowned, despite the frantic attempts of her friends to pull her from the gurgling water.

Tanya Nickens, 16, and about six friends had just hopped into the tub Saturday night when she ducked under the 100-degree water, apparently just intending to wet her hair, witnesses said.The tub's bubble jets were turned on at the same time, and she became trapped against a grate at the bottom of the hot tub, said Kevin McHugh, manager of the Atlantic Club.

Water goes out through the grate to be recirculated back to the bubble jets, and the suction effect apparently pulled on the girl's buttocks and legs, which were stuck against the grate, authorities said.

Witnesses were "totally baffled as to what was holding her down," township police Lt. Ronald Jennings said. The suction force must have been very strong to have prevented so many people from pulling her free, he said.

Jon Soto, 16, said he and another boy jumped in but could not pull the high school junior free. Soto said he inhaled and tried to force air into the girl's mouth underwater.

A lifeguard jumped in and another called for emergency help before a worker went to the basement to shut off the jets, McHugh said.

McHugh said Nickens was under water for five to six minutes. Attempts to revive her failed. She was pronounced dead at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune.