Man drowns while swimming in Lake Natoma

Tu Nghiem
Tu Nghiem courtesy of Nghiem family

A 21-year-old UC Merced student drowned in Lake Natoma just after 1 p.m. Saturday.

Tu Nghiem, 21, of Sacramento was swimming with a relative between Nimbus Flat and the Sacramento State Aquatic Center, said Sgt. Eric Dales of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. They were not wearing life jackets and were not strong swimmers, Dales said.

Lifeguards saw them struggling in the water and jumped in to rescue the men. They managed to save one man, but Nghiem had already gone under the water when they returned for him, Dales said.

The Drowning Accident Rescue Team was called, but Nghiem’s body was recovered before it could begin a search.

Nghiem graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento in 2013, according to his Facebook page, before going on to study bioengineering at UC Merced. He was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity.

A family friend had set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for Nghiem’s funeral expenses on Sunday.

“In his lifetime, he has touched thousands of lives with his kindness, optimism, wisdom and friendship,” the friend wrote on the page. “Tu was a great family member, an upcoming senior at UC Merced, and a very aspiring young man who had a bright future ahead.”

Funeral services for Nghiem will be Aug. 30 at the Sacramento Chinese of Indochina Friendship Association, 6117 Elder Creek Road.

Bee writer Ellen Garrison contributed to this story.

Jessica Hice: 916-321-1550, @JesserPea