Refugee Teen Drowns After Visiting California Beach For First Time

The boy who fled the war in Syria drowned while visiting a California beach for the first time. Now, volunteers want to act so this will never happen again.

refugee crisisA tragedy involving a Syrian refugee is rocking San Diego and bringing people from all backgrounds together to help the victim's family.

According to a local NBC affiliate, a Syrian teenager who arrived in San Diego, California, three months ago drowned in his first visit to a California beach. Mohammed Mostafa, 17, was in the water Sunday when a strong rip current swept him away in Mission Beach.

The boy's family moved to California as refugees, fleeing Aleppo three years ago. Leaving war and misery behind, the family of seven didn't have an easy time getting to America as they crossed into Turkey first, staying there for three years until they were allowed to move to America.

Denise Preston and her family “adopted” the Mostafa family when they arrived in San Diego in late January. Through the organization Hearts4Refugees, she and others help to ease the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the country.

She still recalls with a heavy heart the moment she received the shattering news in the form of a text message from the young man's brother. He asked her for help because Mohammed “sank in the sea.”

After this terrible tragedy, Preston decided to start a new initiative that will help refugees by giving them swimming lessons.

Members of the community are stepping up, helping Preston organize the lessons. The local YMCA in City Heights is offering its pool, and residents are offering the pools at their homes. The first swimming lessons should begin in the next couple of weeks.

If everything works as planned, as many as 1,000 Syrian refugees will be taking part.

In a GoFundMe page created by Preston, the Mostafa family's guardian angel wrote that while their story was “supposed to have a happy ending,” the young Mohammed didn't survive after he and his friends “got caught in a riptide.”

While his buddies were saved by lifeguards, the 17-year-old “disappeared in the water.” Throughout Sunday evening and Monday, lifeguards and the Coast Guard looked for him, but the young man was not found.

Hopefully, Preston and the local community will be able to help this family get back on their feet while also helping other Syrian refugees avoid being caught in the same situation that brought an end to young Mohammed's life.

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