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Teen's drowning at Jenkinson Lake sparks more warnings over local waterways

More safety warnings issued after teen's drowning at El Dorado County lake
More safety warnings issued after teen's drowning at El Dorado County lake 02:22

POLLOCK PINES — Dive Teams in El Dorado County found the body of 19-year-old Mehki Jameel Ali Clay at the bottom of Jenkinson Lake Tuesday morning.

Family members told CBS13 the Carmichael resident and former Del Campo High student was on a camping trip with his wrestling teammates. He graduated in 2022, and the San Juan Unified School District said this was not an official school trip to the lake. 

"I just hope nothing like this happens to anyone else's family," said Rashaad Ali, Mehki's father.

The family said Mehki and his wrestling buddies decided to swim to an island on the lake. They were not wearing life jackets and only made it about 40 feet from the shore. 

"Just looking at where it happened, I just feel like he should not have to go right now," said Ali. "I feel like he should still be here." 

Jazmin Ruiz was at the campground on Monday. She told CBS13 she saw teens searching the shoreline, a helicopter up above and dive teams in the water. 

"You could see it on his face. He was distraught. He was looking for something," Ruiz said of one of the friends. "Bodies of water are scary. They are dangerous. You just have to watch out." 

Officials have been warning about how dangerous the river is, but the El Dorado County Fire Protection District says the same dangers exist at lakes: cold temperatures that can shock your body, even for the best of swimmers. 

"The swiftness of the water would not allow him to continue to swim across the lake, and I am so angry," said Mehki's grandmother Shi Ali. 

El Dorado Fire advises people to not go into the water further than they can touch the ground. Terrain can change drastically underneath, and lakes and reservoirs have steeper drop-offs. 

Dive teams found Mehki about 18 hours later at the bottom of the lake. Mehki's family does not want any other families to go through this. 

"I do not blame him," said Ali. "I do not blame anyone. "I lost my baby, and I miss my baby and I don't know what to do now." 

Mehki's family is planning a trip to Jenkinson Lake to remember him this summer.

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