RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. (CBS Sacramento) – Tragedy struck twice for a family that is now grieving the second loss of a son who drowned. Seventeen-year-old Melino Liu, a senior at Grant High School in Rancho Cordova, California, died after drowning in the American River over the weekend.
Poliana Liu is grieving the passing of her youngest brother. This comes after a similar tragedy struck her family in 2016 when she lost her brother Paul.
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“Our other brother drowned back in 2016 and this was near the Rainbow Bridge,” she told KTVT-TV in Sacramento. “This past Saturday is when Melino drowned as well.”
Captain Brian Gonsalves with the Sacramento Metro Fire Department says the water is deceptively low. In addition, branches, trees, and debris that have been underwater for years are now surfacing, which swimmers can get caught in.
The levels are also impacting rescue operations.
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“It’s so shallow that we are having a hard time putting in our water rescue boats,” he said.
Josh West has been swimming in the river for years. “There’s a lot of underestimation that occurs, and when there is lower water, sometimes it’s the debris,” he said.
As for Melino’s family, they are now planning his funeral instead of a high school graduation celebration.
“People would know him as a gentle giant,” Poliana said, adding she will be accepting his diploma in her brother’s honor. “He had plans after high school — he wanted to join the military.”
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Poliana will be accepting her brother’s diploma on June 1. She said she’ll miss Molino making breakfast for her and her mother every morning.