Friends and teachers all say 17-year-old Christian Schmitt was a guy you couldn’t miss. His personality filled the room and he overflowed with enthusiasm and joy.
Saturday evening they gathered on the front lawn of Columbia High School, where Chris was a Senior, to sing, share stories, and remember the young man who touched so many lives.
Chris died Sunday, September 16th, doing what he loved most – flying.
“When he found out he was going to be able to ride airplanes, he would not stop talking about how he was going to fly,” said Shawna Thigpen, a close friend who organized the vigil.
For Chris, there was freedom in the skies, and he traded in his fear of heights for a pair of wings.
“He was so excited to do what he loved the most. He loved it. He always talked about it,” said Thigpen.
Beyond his passion for flight, Chris also loved to sing. Saturday night, his friends from choir led the group in singing some of his favorite songs, including “Amazing Grace.”
“He had that spark. And in times like this I’m amazed at how sometimes teachers think about how we might touch a life, but students may not realize how they impact our lives. So profoundly, sometimes,” said Columbia choir teacher James Kendrick.
Chris’s friends describe him as fiercely loyal and always humble.
“He’d be amazed to see all of these people come out here just for him,” said friend Terrance Nance.
During this time of staggering loss, with their pain illuminated by candlelight, his loved ones found comfort Saturday, knowing Chris is looking down on them from the skies.
“Try to live your life like Chris,” said Nance. “He was so enthusiastic and excited about life. He cared about everyone.”