‘Why him?’ question friends of Socastee teen who drowned while surfing

SOCASTEE, SC (WBTW)- Close friends of Keahi Mendoza spoke to News13 Tuesday after the 17-year-old drowned in the ocean while surfing Monday in Surfside Beach.

The Socastee High School student had just signed to run cross country for Anderson College, but his friend Hailey Pimental says he’s remembered for much more.

“We all knew him as that guy. That awesome, awesome guy who was just always happy,” said Pimental.

Andrew Godfrey has been Mendoza’s best friend since middle school, and through tears said now he’s left with questions.

“Why him? Out of everybody else in the world, out of everybody who does wrong and doesn’t treat people right, he was the one person that was always there for you,” said Godfrey.

The student athlete was one of the best in Socastee High School history, but to his coach Robb Urbaniak, he leaves behind much more.

“He just made everybody around him better. That was his legacy. That’s what he did was bring everybody up,” said Urbaniak.

This is the second student death for Socastee High School in one month, and the students say returning to school after winter break won’t be the same.

“Socastee is so strong. We have been through so much. We have lost a lot of really good people just throughout the years that I’ve been here and the thing that I notice is that we’re strong,” said Pimental.

A memorial for Keahi Medoza will be at 7:00 Friday night at the Surfside Beach Pier. Everyone is invited to attend.

Fewer than 24 hours after a support page was created on youcaring.com to cover the funeral expenses for the 17-year-old, donors had raised more than $8,000.

Tuesday the page was started with the goal of raising $12,000 to cover Keahi’s funeral costs. As of Wednesday evening, more than 140 people had donated, raising $8,034.