Message from missing teen's parents: 'Thank you'

Message from missing teen's parents: 'Thank you'

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by DIANNE GALLAGHER / NBC Charlotte Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @DianneG

WCNC.com

Posted on October 31, 2012 at 11:54 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 2 at 7:00 AM

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. -- The past few days haven't been easy for Sue and Zig Ziegler.

"I miss hearing him tell me he loves me. I miss telling him I love him," said Sue about her son Jake.

The 18-year-old and his best friend, 17-year-old Ray Pierce, died October 13 when, on the way back from a trip to Myrtle Beach.  Jake's car ran off the highway and into the Wateree River in Kershaw County, S.C. It would be 15 days before anyone would find the Bandys High School seniors.

"The not knowing. That was the nightmare," explained Sue. "To think they could be out there suffering was the worst part of it all."

The Zieglers spent more than two weeks searching for the boys with complete strangers from the Community United Effort (CUE) Center for Missing Persons. They combed the highways and back roads leading out of Myrtle Beach, sometimes searching for 18 hours a day.

"When we were crying, one of the volunteers came up and tried to comfort us. She said she had been searching for her daughter for six years. She is still searching for her daughter but she took time to help us search for our son. What do you say? Thanks ain't enough," said Zig Ziegler.

Monica Caison, the CUE Director, was the person who found Jake and Ray. Sue told NBC Charlotte, "An officer came over and said they would have never looked where the boys were. He said they never would have found them if it hadn't been for CUE."

The Zieglers said they want to honor Jake by helping other people who may be searching for their loved ones. Sue said they are already working with other CUE volunteers.

"Every parent, every loved one deserves to know. They deserve to say goodbye," said Sue.

Bandys High School will hold a vigil for Jake and Ray Friday night before the football game. A memorial service for the two friends is set for Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Cavin-Cook Funeral Home Chapel.

Both families have requested, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the CUE Center.

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