Boyle Heights student drowns during beach cleanup


Thuy Thanh Tran, a 17-year-old student at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School in Boyle Heights, died after volunteering at a Santa Monica beach cleanup.

Thuy was pulled out by a rip current Saturday, said Lidia Barillas, spokeswoman for the L.A. County Fire Department’s lifeguard division. Lifeguards responded to a rescue call around 12:45 p.m. Saturday, and searched for Thuy for a little less than an hour before a lifeguard found her under water. The search team included lifeguards, scuba divers, harbor patrol and a helicopter, Barillas said.

She was unresponsive and was taken to a Santa Monica hospital, where she was pronounced dead at at 5:15 a.m. Sunday, said Ed Winter, spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner.


The Bravo senior was a member of the National Honors Society and had been accepted to Stanford University for the fall.

Thuy opened the electronic acceptance letter last Friday, university spokeswoman Lisa Lapin wrote in an email. Stanford’s dean of admissions, Richard Shaw, sent a letter of sympathy to her family along with the formal acceptance letter, her original application and the admissions materials she would have gotten this week, Lapin said in the email.

“Even in her short association with us as an applicant and newly admitted student to Stanford’s Class of 2020, we knew she was absolutely the right person to be a part of the incoming class,” his letter read, according to Lapin. “We will miss getting to know her but will remember her character, her great success and her potential.”

Thuy was in a tie to be Bravo’s valedictorian this year, said Brandon Andrews, the school’s dean of student discipline. Andrews knew her because he occasionally oversaw track tournaments. He said Thuy never got into trouble.

She was an athlete, participating in track and cross country, said Brian Ota, the school’s athletic director. Schools in the league will wear maroon ribbons throughout the track season in her memory, Ota said.

Thuy’s older brother is a student at Yale and her younger sister attends Bravo, school administrators said.


The school had crisis counselors on campus during the week to support students and staff, according to a news release the Los Angeles Unified School District sent Thursday morning, after ABC reported the death Wednesday. The cleanup was not a school-sponsored event, the statement said.

“The L.A. Unified family is deeply saddened by the accidental drowning of a Bravo Medical Magnet High School student during a beach cleanup project this weekend,” Supt. Michelle King said in the statement. “Our hearts go out to the relatives and friends of this exceptional young woman, and to the entire school community.”

Reach Sonali Kohli at or on Twitter @Sonali_Kohli.


2:43 p.m.: This story has been updated to include information from Lidia Barillas, Brandon Andrews and Brian Ota.

3:31 p.m.: This story was updated to include information from Stanford University.