Vigil for missing Chesterfield man lost at sea

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A Chesterfield man is missing and Sunday his friends and family held a vigil - holding out hope he may be found after two days lost at sea.

The Coast Guard called off its search for 28-year-old Christopher Panchyshyn Sunday after searching unsuccessfully for hours on Saturday.

Panchyshyn was deep sea fishing with some friends this weekend when the boat he was on ran into some rough waves. Three people went overboard early Saturday and two of them were rescued.

More than one hundred people gathered for support, and possibly to say goodbye to their friend Panchyshyn after he was thrown overboard and lost at sea off the coast of North Carolina. Chris' grandfather Richard says the turnout to his grandson's vigil says it all.

"We're all going to miss him," he said. "He was a very lovable individual and by looking at the crowd you can see what I mean."

As daylight started to fade, so did the hope of finding their friend.

Chris's grandfather told the crowd rescuers found Chris's jacket, but not Chris. Friends called him a thrill-seeker as they lit candles and displayed a picture in front of his motorcycle.

"He did die doing what he loved," said long-time friend Amanda Staton-Hooks. "He wouldn't have wanted it any other way."

Now Chris' father and other family members are in North Carolina to say goodbye - still trying to grasp what may have happened to Chris.

"It's like being in a fog," said Richard Panchyshyn. "But the sad thing this time the fog isn't going to lift. This fog is going to stay with us."

His friends also described him as a man of unwavering faith that said what me meant, and meant what he said.

"He meant a lot to a lot of people," said Lauren Perkins. "He was a really good person who had a lot of really good morals."

Still doubt lingers about where Chris may be, and if there's any hope he may be coming home.

"You always wonder, where are they?" Perkins said. "Could they be sitting out there not being found?"

Rescuers say they won't restart their search unless they get some sort of indication that Chris is still alive.

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