SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Hundreds of students gathered at Surfside Beach Pier Friday night to pay tribute to a Socastee High School classmate who died earlier this week while surfing.
Surfside Beach was lined with messages written in sea shells by grieving high school students and a band of brothers that is the Socastee High cross country team.
It's been a hard and emotional break for Socastee High School. First, a fatal wreck on Bay Road killed three teenaged girls, one of whom attended the school.
Friday's memorial was for 17-year-old Aidan Keahi Mendoza, who died surfing in Surfside Beach on Monday.
"I want to say I love him. We all love him," said Damien Mendoza, Keahi's father. "And today we're going to celebrate and show God how much we love him, because he's not mine anymore."
Mendoza's family, friends and former cross country and track teammates came out. They lit candles and glow sticks in tribute.
Additionally, everyone was asked to bring shoelaces to tie to glow sticks and hang on the pier.
Some don't know what they will do when it comes time to lace up and return to practice when school starts back next week.
"I just saw him at practice. I was just standing next to him, just running with him at practice like any other day. I said bye to the team, you know, 'Bye guys,' not thinking it would be the last time," said teammate Sommer El-Khatib.
Mendoza was in his senior at Socastee High. He had a cross country scholarship to run next year at Anderson University.