Aasha Sharma was remembered during a Friday afternoon vigil as a mother who loved spending her days off going to the park and enjoying the outdoors with her husband and two young children.
It was during a family outing Monday afternoon that Sharma, 31, while wading in the Sacramento River near Discovery Park, accidentally entered a deep section with a strong current. Her husband, Purna Paudel, who was standing in the water nearby, said he grabbed the collar of his wife’s shirt, but he, too, was pulled with her into the deep water. Neither of them knew how to swim. Paudel said he waved his hand and called for help. A man came to Paudel’s rescue, but his wife had disappeared.
Sharma’s body was recovered Thursday morning on the Yolo County side of the river near the Tower Bridge, according to West Sacramento police. Gina Moya, Yolo County’s chief deputy coroner, said Friday that the cause of death was drowning.
Mary Grace Smith said she met Sharma about three years ago while working at University Post-Acute Rehab, a skilled-nursing facility on Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento. Smith said Sharma was a certified nursing assistant. A native of Nepal, she had recently received her United States citizenship, Smith said.
“She was very kind-hearted and soft-spoken,” Smith said. “She had a generous heart. Even when she was tired, she was willing to help. She would go out of her way to make someone happy.”
Smith said friends and co-workers were heartbroken to learn of her death.
“It’s tragic,” she said. “We’re just all sad for her and her family.”
Sharma and her husband lived with their sons, 5-year-old Aabhar and 2-year-old Arnav, in the Natomas area. Paudel, who works as a clerk at a convenience store, said the couple came to the United States in 2008. They had planned to make their first return visit to Nepal later this year. He said they no family in the Sacramento area. But after Friday’s vigil, he said, he felt like he had a family in the friends and co-workers who gathered to support him and remember Sharma.
A photo display featuring a smiling Sharma was surrounded by flowers, votive candles and incense. Several friends knelt to light candles following a brief service led by Doug Strawn, pastor of the Sacramento Wesleyan Methodist Church. One of Sharma’s co-workers paddled a kayak toward the middle of the river to lay a wreath on the water in memory of her friend.
Smith has launched a fundraising drive to assist the family. Donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/yw69us.