KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Classmates showed their support for a Farrington High School student who was swept away in rough seas off Mokuleia on Saturday. Nearly 1,000 people gathered for an emotional tribute on campus honoring Dayne Ortiz on Monday night. The vigil included songs and prayers. Ortiz's uncle thanked the crowd on behalf of the grieving family.
Earlier in the day, Ortiz's teammates listened to their football coach before hitting the field for practice.
"We have the opportunity to go out on the field and honor him with our play," said coach Randall Okimoto.
Farrington is set to play Baldwin on Friday in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. Now the team is missing one of its starters.
"It has hurt us emotionally and mentally," said teammate Manly Williams. "We need him so much. He's that cornerback that's always coming to practice, working hard. We're going to miss that hard worker."
"I broke down. I knew he was a fighter, but the waves. North Shore is a strong place where accidents happen," said teammate Motu Heimuli.
Memories and messages fill two big banners at the front of the school. Those close to the senior describe him as a quiet student who has touched a lot of lives.
"I've seen a couple kids crying. A lot of the kids are being late to class so they can stop to sign the board," said Meghan Ofagalilo, Ortiz's former classmate.
School counselors, social workers, and a team from the Department of Education reached out to grieving students and staff.
"A lot of the kids tend to console one another and that's fine, and yet we want everyone to know the counselors will be here for as long as they have to be," said student activities coordinator Theresa Schubert.
During lunch, hundreds of Ortiz's classmates headed to the football field for a prayer vigil and moment of silence which was organized by some students.
"To me, he always seemed as if he was unstoppable. He was always down for anything. He was loyal to his friends," said Ofagalilo.
Lifeguards and fire rescue crews stopped searching the shoreline in Mokuleia at sundown. They will resume their efforts on Tuesday morning. Ortiz's family and friends have also helped with the search.
"Just thinking of how devastating it is, I think they're holding up pretty well. Of course, it's a really difficult time," said principal Al Carganilla.