ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) - It's been 17 days since UVA second-year student, Hannah Graham, vanished off the face of the earth. Students across the state are standing together, hoping for her safe return.
Hundreds of coeds gathered at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Tuesday night, praying Hannah will come home. They're also asking everyone to be aware that what happened to Hannah could happen to anyone.
"She didn't make it back to her apartment. And the truth is, anyone could have ended up like that boy or girl on the news," said Delaney Sheire, a student at Randolph-Macon College, and one of the vigil's organizers.
"We've all kept up with the news updates, hoping and praying that she'll be found," said Emily Plowman, another student at R-MC.
However, holding on to that hope becomes more difficult as each day passes.
"I can't imagine if that happened to anyone I knew, any of my friends. I can't believe it happened to Hannah. And I just never want to see anything like that again," added senior Amy Northrop.
The candles were lit for Hannah Graham and her family. However, the ceremony's message went beyond hope. Safety was stressed to the campus community.
"Take care of one another. Watch out for one another. Step in when you see something that doesn't look right. And just basically protect yourselves," said R-MC Dean of Students Dr. Grant Azdell.
Students reassured one another that no one will walk by themselves. The Ashland police chief, school heads and student leaders urged that if you see a classmate alone, reach out.
A series of people reported seeing Hannah alone, and possibly intoxicated, the night she vanished.
"Think about if anyone of those people had stopped to see if she was okay," said Dr. Denise Bissler at the podium, a professor at the school. Bissler made it clear that the only person at fault, is the person who abducted Hannah. However, proactive steps can be taken to help everyone be safer.
"If you see weird behavior, to engage yourself and help others," continued Sheire.
"We always have to remember that there are people out there who would wish us harm. And we have to take care of one another," added Dr. Azdell.
The search for Hannah Graham continues throughout Albemarle County. Crews are now combing rural areas, and asking neighbors to help check their properties for any sign of Hannah Graham.