Utah residents gathered in Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake for a vigil in honor of Gabby Petito Wednesday night.
Pictures of Petito laid on a table adorned with flowers, candles, a teddy bear and letters. People were offered candles and lighters to reflect on the tragic death.
The vigil was small and a few people in the crowd volunteered to speak. From moms who couldn’t fathom losing a child to bikers against domestic abuse, those who attended felt a need to mourn.
Those who spoke talked about the glaring reality of domestic abuse and how it is often hidden in plain sight.
“I feel very scared because that could’ve easily been me and I feel like sometimes when you’re in toxic relationships you don’t recognize it,” vigil attendee Madyson Campbell said.
Serena Chavez organized the event. She wanted to honor Petito and shed light on others like her.
“It was important to spread awareness — not only to her and remembering her, but to victims of domestic violence,” Chavez said.
The 22-year-old captured people’s hearts with her picturesque van-life and her sudden, heartbreaking death. Chavez invited Bryson David, a pastor from a local church in Salt Lake, to say a few words and offer a prayer. The service brought up emotions varying from grief to hope.
“I feel care for the family, but I think I really feel proud that we can come together as a community and support different issues, especially like domestic violence,” David said.
Those that attended shared a similar feeling of hope: hope for justice, hope for awareness of domestic abuse and hope for a better future.