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Candlelight vigil for Vang Friday in Chilliwack

A candlelight vigil is being planned for Friday night in Chilliwack to remember the life of fisherman Christopher Vang, who was swept down the Fraser River last month.

Vang, 24, of Abbotsford, was fishing at the time near Peg Leg bar with his cousins.

He drowned trying to save them, after his family members went into the water, said Oliver Lee, a friend of the family who is organizing the vigil.

"He was fishing with people who had years of experience. This could have happened to anybody."

About 100 people are expected to make the trek for the vigil, he said.

"The Vangs are a super tight knit family, very generous and with strong family values," he said. "I felt compelled to do something."

A massive search for Vang ensued, and part of the event is to acknowledge the superlative efforts expended trying desperately to find him.

"Also there have been too many incidents like this," he said.

Another aspect is river safety and remembering others who died tragically in a similar way, said Lee. Vang was not wearing a personal floatation device and was swept into the water when his hip waders filled up.

"This has been a very tragic and a painful time for Vang family," he said. "Let's hope that no one else has to endure the loss of a loved one, a son, a brother, and a friend."

It's hoped the vigil will also raise awareness to the perils of the river and to lobby legislators to make wearing a PFD mandatory, Lee added.

"Even though we have lost Chris in our physical lives, Chris may be invariably present, so he may still be able to help send a life line to someone else in need," said Lee.

To this end, the Chris Vang Preservation of Life (Foundation) account was created to raise funds to help the Vang family and others who have lost someone in the river. Proceeds will go towards the victims' families and a campaign to toughen our river safety bylaws.

The vigil attendees will start gathering at about 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 14 at the Island 22 boat launch in Chilliwack, with an expected 7 p.m. start.

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