City officials, community mourn the loss of 'tremendous young man' who drowned

FRESNO, Calif. - City Officials came together to mourn a young life lost too soon. Neng Thao worked with Fresno Mayor Lee Brand as a youth commission officer.

The teenager drowned a week ago in the San Joaquin River.

Neng was scheduled to graduate Monday, June 5, as valedictorian from Edison High School.

Mayor Brand along with Congressman Jim Costa and other city officials presented Neng's family with a special plaque at the funeral service, Monday.

May 29, will now forever be known in Fresno as "Neng Thao" Day.

Many at the service said even though they mourn, Neng's service was a celebration of what he accomplished in his short life.

Traditional Hmong song and dance, celebrated a young life gone too soon.

A mother stands somber with her family as she listened to several community members speak of the impact her young son made in their life.

"Thank you for Neng Thao, for sharing him with us, because in the short time I knew him, he was a tremendous young man that made a lot of impact in our community," said Esmeralda Soria, Fresno City Councilmember.

Soria, just one of many speakers at Neng's service.

Everyone who spoke of him said he was highly involved in the community.

Neng was working with the mayor to establish paid internship for his peers.

Mayor Brand said Neng inspired people of all ages to be proud of who they are and dream big.

"So much reminded me of who I was as a young kid, didn't have much but had big dreams and Neng was part of that," said Mayor Brand.

Congressman Jim Costa, paid his respects to Neng's family.

He said Neng was the kind of student that would have gone on to do great things for his family and the nation.

"He's the kind of example of what our young people can do if they apply themselves," said Rep. Jim Costa, (D) Fresno.

Students from Edison High watched as the mayor and city officials presented Neng's mother and father with a plaque, proclaiming May 29, as "Neng Thao" Day.

Something his friends and family said is bittersweet.

"Now we have a day in memory of him, this great fantastic person, theres not a enough words to describe him and I'm happy everyone can remember him like that," said Bruce Yang, friend.

"The family is very grateful for all the support, you see the whole community coming together and they're very grateful to everyone," said  Bo Thao-Urabe, Neng's cousin.

Councilmember Soria will also give out a scholarship in Neng's name.

Tuesday is the final service for Neng, is family will lay him to rest in the afternoon.

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