Community prays for Wake Forest teen who died, another who is hospitalized

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Vigil for Ian Lewis and Paige Merical 1

Hundreds gathered at E. Carroll Joyner Park in Wake Forest to pray for a teen who died and another who is hospitalized in Greenville, after they were caught in rip currents at the beach.

Ian Lewis and Paige Merical were at Emerald Isle Beach, N.C. for spring break, when they were caught in a rip current on Friday.

Ian Lewis, 18, never made it out alive. His body pulled from the water Monday after a search all weekend.

“Never an easy thing to do to lose someone,” Ian’s brother said.

“He was the best person I’ve ever known. The most reliable guy I’ve ever met,” Darien Kiener, Ian’s best friend, said.

Paige Merical remains at Vidant Medical Center. Her mother said she was underwater for 14 minutes and hasn’t regained consciousness. 

“Stubborn, hard-headed, funny. One of the best people in the world,” said Tracie Hester, Paige’s cousin.

Ian and Paige were seniors at Wake Forest High School. Students returned to school for the first time since the incident on Tuesday. 

“He was always dancing. Always laughing. Always had some sort of funny quip that would you kind of make you mad but also make you laugh,” Ian’s brother said.

Family and friends remain at Paige Merical’s hospital bedside. 

“If that was me in that situation, I think Paige would be there for me too,” Jade Roberson, Paige’s friend said.

“We love them, both of them. Like everybody does,” Mia Viccaro, Paige’s friend said.

Paige Merical ‘s family continues to ask for prayers.

“Please, please, please I beg of each and every one of you to call your parents. Tell them that you love them… If you’re with someone take pictures. Record video. Because you never know when the memories you have with someone will be the only ones that you’ll ever have,” Ian’s brother said.

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