SAYING GOODBYE: Family members grieve during a memorial service Thursday for Nicholas Sann, 19, of Dracut, at the Glory Buddhist Temple in Lowell. Sann, in
SAYING GOODBYE: Family members grieve during a memorial service Thursday for Nicholas Sann, 19, of Dracut, at the Glory Buddhist Temple in Lowell. Sann, in the portrait at left, died Sunday while spending the day with friends at the Pemigewasset River in Woodstock, N.H. See video at lowellsun.com. SUN / DAVID H. BROW

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LOWELL -- Since graduating from Dracut High School in 2013, Nicholas Sann has worked at a medical-device company and spent hours helping his mother at her Fitchburg liquor store.

So when he had some free time this summer, Sann headed to New Hampshire with his friends for a day of fun at the Pemigewasset River in Woodstock, N.H., according to his family.

But that day of fun in the sun turned tragic Sunday when the 19-year-old drowned in a swift-flowing portion of the river.

Officials say Sann was swimming with five friends when he jumped into an area with a strong current and drowned. Sann was found in about 12 feet of water. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

"Everybody is having a hard time.

Above, from left, John Sann, 30, Michael Sann, 32, and Andrew Sann, 29, say their last goodbyes to their brother, Nicholas Sann, 19, during a memorial
Above, from left, John Sann, 30, Michael Sann, 32, and Andrew Sann, 29, say their last goodbyes to their brother, Nicholas Sann, 19, during a memorial service Thursday at the Glory Buddhist Temple in Lowell. SUN / DAVID H. BROW

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My mother is taking it the hardest," said Sann's older brother, John Sann, a UMass Lowell police officer. "But the family is hanging in there.''

On the day he died, Sann's family was planning a barbeque for an aunt and uncle who were visiting. Instead, the family began planning a funeral.

More than two dozen family members, including Sann's three brothers, his sister, mother and father, and even his grandmother who was flown in from Cambodia, attended a service Thursday afternoon at the Glory Buddhist Temple in Lowell.

His family gathered around the open casket, lovingly surrounded by photos of Sann during happier times.

"If anybody was into family, it was him,'' John Sann said of his brother.


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"He was the youngest of five, the baby of the family. What hurts the most is that everyone else is so much older. We didn't have a lot of time to spend with him."

John Sann said his brother's passion was cars. "He really loved cars," he said. With their mother's help, his little brother bought his first car a few months ago, a Lexus.

John Sann says what he regrets is that his future children will never get to know his fun-loving youngest brother.

Alex Sann said his cousin "liked to enjoy life.

From left, Sary Mech, Nicholas Sann’s godmother, grieves with his parents, Srey and San Mann.SUN / DAVID H. BROWSun staff photos can be ordered by
From left, Sary Mech, Nicholas Sann's godmother, grieves with his parents, Srey and San Mann. SUN / DAVID H. BROW

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
He always knew how to lighten the mood, no matter what was going on."

Michelle Sann, Alex's sister, said she will always remember her older cousin as someone "who always had a smile on his face. He was always happy.''

Funeral services are at 8 a.m. today at the Dolan Funeral Home, followed by burial at Westlawn II Cemetery in Lowell.

Follow Lisa Redmond on Tout and Twitter@lredmond13_lisa.