CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Abigael Bellows’ infectious personality is what friends and family cherish most about her.
“She was a beautiful soul,” her Aunt Deb Cline said. “She radiated so much positivity.”
A vigil was held Wednesday evening at Chambers Fort Park “in hope and remembrance” of Bellows, who went missing in Oregon on July 22. Nearly 200 people showed up to share memories of the Chambersburg area native, according to Cline.
A similar candlelight vigil was held in Oregon the same night along the riverside near where Bellows went missing.
“I thought it was beautiful and meaningful, and we had an outpouring of love and support,” Cline said. “It just was so nice to have our family uplifted in prayer and to be there with everyone in fellowship and support of one another.”
“I just think that if Abigael was there, she would have loved every second of it,” Claire Jacobs said of her best friend since middle school.
“It was very heartwarming to see the amount of people that showed up in support for Abigael, and it was just nice to see the community come together for when someone else in our community is in need or they’re hurting,” said Lindsay Embly, Bellows’ friend from Chambersburg Area Senior High School.
Bellows was born April 12, 1998 — Easter Sunday.
“Free-spirited” is how many describe the way Bellows lived her life.
“She truly lived out her best life,” Jacobs said.
The 22-year-old’s laugh could brighten any room.
“Her laugh was very contagious, it made other people laugh,” Embly said. “She would always light up the room, she would always warm people’s hearts.”
“No matter what we were doing, it was just always like we had so much fun,” Jacobs said. “We didn’t have to go anywhere. We could just be at one of our houses — we would just sit there and laugh for hours about the most random stuff.”
Jacobs said she loved meeting up with Bellows any time she would come home to visit. The friends enjoyed hiking in Caledonia State Park or going out for lunch to catch up.
“She was always passionate to talk about what she believed in,” Jacobs said. “I feel like the most admirable thing about her is that she was her very true, authentic self — no matter what people said.”
“I felt she was destined for great things,” Cline said. “She was on a journey for authenticity, and she did it her way. I love her.”
Missing in Oregon river
Bellows went missing on July 22. She was swimming with friends along the Middle Fork Willamette River near Clearwater Park when witnesses saw her disappear underwater without a life jacket, according to a report from ABC affiliate KEZI 9 News.
Crews with Lane County Search and Rescue have used boats, divers, dogs and drones throughout the area every day since she disappeared, but no trace of Bellows has been found.
Garth and Tressa Bellows of Fayetteville flew to Oregon last Friday, along with their two other daughters, Eliza and Ivy, to search for their missing daughter.
Abigael moved to Eugene, Ore., two years ago. She thrived in the West Coast lifestyle, with a keen interest in sustainability and the environment, her mother told KEZI. Friends shared that Abigael’s love of nature and activities like yoga and hiking fit in perfectly with the community in Oregon.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by the extended family in order to cover the costs of travel and rescue measures for the Bellowses. As of Thursday, more than $38,000 had been raised toward the $45,000 goal through the donations of nearly 600 people hoping to reunite Abigael with her loved ones.
Loved ones continue to ask the community to keep the Bellows family and search-and-rescue teams in their prayers.
“We just want to continue the effort to try to find her before it’s too late to be able to bring her home with family,” Cline said.
“You look at your own life and you just have to think, you never know when your time is, you never know what could happen,” Embly said. “You need to live life to the fullest, you need to hold your loved ones closely and remind them each and every day that they’re loved and they’re cherished.”