Tony Garcia’s family and friends would not leave him.
For nearly 21 hours, about two dozen people waited anxiously in the College Creek parking lot, watching divers and boats crisscross the river in search of Garcia.
The 23-year-old Chesterfield man disappeared Monday night while swimming. He was visiting the Williamsburg area with a church group, police said, and was likely pulled under by a riptide.
Now, the community is pulling together to help the family of a man described as a “loving husband and wonderful son.”
A GoFundMe page for Garcia raised nearly $3,400 by 4 p.m. Wednesday. The donations will cover funeral expenses for Garcia, who did not have insurance, said Stefany Menjivar, the page’s creator.
The campaign, which has a $10,000 goal, has been shared over 1,000 times.
“He was trustworthy, charismatic, everywhere he went he would make friends,” said Menjivar, who is related to Garcia’s widow. “He wasn’t shy to talk to anyone.”
Pastors from Chesterfield area churches joined Garcia’s church group on the visit to College Creek Monday, Menjivar said. The creek is located off the Colonial Parkway in James City County and is managed by the National Park Service.
Garcia was fishing with a relative when the pair decided to cool off in the water. When they attempted to swim out to a sandbar, Garcia was pulled underwater and did not resurface.
The search lasted until 4 p.m. Tuesday and included recovery teams from 10 different agencies.
Menjivar said Garcia was a man of strong faith and served as a youth leader at Rehobot Fuente del Espiritu Santo church in Chesterfield.
Garcia’s church posted a link to the GoFundMe on their Facebook page Wednesday morning.
Written in Spanish, the post was addressed to the entire community.
“With great heartache, we are begging you to help the Garcia family,” it read.
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