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American River drowning victim was Afghan refugee who dreamed of joining Air Force

"He always liked to help people, serve people," said Omar's older brother Ahmad.

CARMICHAEL, Calif. — The River City High School student who drowned on the American River Saturday was an Afghan refugee who dreamed of serving the country in the Air Force or working as a police officer, according to his family.

18-year-old Omar Sofizada was swimming near Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael during a family reunion when he went out into the water and didn't come back.

The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District said he was removed from the water in a rescue boat just after 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening. On Sunday, the Sofizada family confirmed to ABC10 that he had died. 

Sofizada immigrated to the United States with his siblings from Afghanistan in September, after the withdrawal of U.S. armed forces there. His older brother and parents had moved to the U.S. several years earlier.  

"I have never experienced such a pain in my entire life," said older brother Ahmad Sofizada, who traveled to Sacramento from Texas where he currently serves in the Air Force.

The elder Sofizada said his brother was thinking of following his footsteps by joining the Air Force after graduation.

"He always liked to help people. Serve people. That’s what I’m doing right now, serving this country, and that’s what he wanted to do, too," Sofizada said. 

More than 100 relatives, neighbors and community members came together in prayer for Sofizada in a Monday night memorial. 

"The way that we look at it, the separation from Omar is temporary, because in the afterlife, we will all get back together," said Ahmad Sofizada. "All of our family members will be together, and we’ll meet him again."

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