CHERRY GROVE, SC (WMBF) – Hundreds of people lined the coast to say goodbye to 19 year old Anderson Estep.
The local teen disappeared last Friday while surfing near the Cherry Grove Pier. Friends, family, and even strangers gathered to honor and remember him.
"Every time we go out, we feel like we're bonding with him. Like we're out there with him," expressed Tyler Hodges. Hodges was with Estep the day he went missing in the ocean.
The paddle out began with a prayer by the pier before the surfers took to the waves. In the same waters where he was last seen, Anderson Estep's surfing family said one last goodbye.
"To me, it just means, just this one last time…being with him, his spirit out there. It's hard. But, I know he's smiling down on us," said Jeff Berlin. Berlin became close to Estep through their mutual love of surfing.
Even in the sadness, his friends could smile as they watched hundreds of people line the coast to say goodbye to Anderson.
"I can't help but to smile. To see all these people here showing their love and support for Anderson and his family," said Hodges.
His friends say the turnout reflects how Anderson lived his life.
"He lived like he died, always a party, always having people around and entertaining them," shared David Sink, Anderson's roommate.
"It's refreshing, that in a world that doesn't often give us such good news, that people can join together, join their hearts and hold a family up," said Mike Berry, Anderson's Associate Pastor with the Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church.
The paddle out is a type of surfer's goodbye, fitting for the teen's love for the sport.
"We'll get out there, form a big circle. We'll hoot and holler and let Anderson hear us," explained Hodges.
While forming a circle in the water, surfers threw flowers in the air as friends lining the pier tossed petals onto the water.
"The flowers will ride back in, symbolizing this is the last ride for Anderson on the surf," said Berry.
While Anderson's friends still hope he comes home, the paddle out gave them some small sense of peace.
"It evoked a lot of emotions, but it brought closure," said Sink.
The surfers say they will always feel closest to Anderson Estep near the Cherry Grove Pier.