Teen Set to Graduate in June Drowns to Death in Sacramento County

An Asian American high school senior set to graduate next month died from drowning in California’s American River last Saturday.

What happened: Melino Liu, 17, was likely wading in the shallow parts of the river in Rancho Cordova when he took the fatal step.

  • “There are points where you’ll take a step and you can drop 15 to 20 feet below the surface level of the water,” Metro Fire Captain Chris Vestal told FOX40.
  • Aside from the deceptively low water, branches, trees and debris that have been underwater for years are now surfacing and trapping swimmers, Captain Brian Gonsalves told CBS13.
  • Melino’s body was recovered from a 20-foot deep channel using an underwater robot.
  • He was celebrating a birthday with friends.

Double loss: Melino’s death marks a double tragedy for his family since they also lost his older brother Paul to drowning in 2015.

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  • Unlike the 17-year-old, his brother, however, knew how to swim.
  • Liu’s sister reportedly permitted Melino to go swimming with friends — something his mother, Sosefina, would not have done.
  • “He was a really nice boy,” Sosefina told KCRA, recalling her son bringing her breakfast in bed.
  • Days before the incident, Liu showed his mother a picture of himself with his deceased father and brother, saying, “I’m going to be the third one.”
  • Liu’s older sister will accept his diploma in his honor on June 1 at Grant High School. She said he had plans to join the military upon graduating high school.

Sacramento requires everyone under the age of 13 to wear life jackets. Parents in violation face a $500 fine and jail time of up to six months.

Featured Image via CBS Sacramento

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