SAN PEDRO ( — A man who drowned while saving the life of a teen was called a true hero Saturday by his family members.

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Francisco Camacho Melendez, known to family and friends as Pancho, died in San Pedro after he jumped into choppy waters to save a 14-year-old and his father.

A prayer service was held for Melendez, a father of six, Saturday evening.

KCAL9’s Brittney Hopper was invited to attend the somber family gathering and prayer service.

His wife of 17 years was particularly grief-stricken. But she told Hopper it gave her some peace knowing her husband died saving someone’s life.

“He would have saved anybody’s life,” said Olga Diaz. “Anybody.”

Diaz said her husband loved going to his favorite fishing spot in San Pedro every weekend.

Diaz’s sister, Laura Castro, is also devastated but said the family can call Pancho a true hero.

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“It makes us feel a little better knowing that he died doing the right thing. He saved someone else,” said Castro.

Witness Hugo Castellonos, who tried to give Pancho CPR to no avail, also believes Pancho was a hero.

“He was the real hero. Because he saved the little boy,” said Castellonos.

Pancho’s wife told Hopper she would like to meet the 14-year-old boy and the father her husband saved.

“I’m just glad they’re alive. Too bad he didn’t make it,” said Diaz.

The family is in need of donations for Pancho’s funeral. If you would like to help, the family says to contact Pancho’s brother by email:


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