Search underway for missing UMN student who fell into Mississippi; prayer vigil held

Around 250 family people gathered for a Wednesday evening prayer vigil for Chris Stanley.

A prayer vigil is held for Chris Stanley at Oak Grove Lutheran Church on Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

Carter Jones

A prayer vigil is held for Chris Stanley at Oak Grove Lutheran Church on Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

Natalie Rademacher

A University of Minnesota student is missing after he was swept into the Mississippi River Tuesday evening.

Chris Stanley, a neurobiology senior, fell into the river near St. Anthony Falls.

Stanley and a friend were sitting near the river when a large wave knocked them into the water, according to the Minneapolis Park Police Department. The friend pulled himself out of the river after he went over St. Anthony Falls but couldn’t locate Stanley, authorities said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, authorities had searched the river near Waterpower Park and the 3rd Avenue Bridge, a Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said.

About 250 family and friends gathered a prayer vigil Wednesday evening at the Oak Grove Lutheran Church in Richfield. Shirts with the hashtag “Find Chris” were distributed.

“Keep your faith,” said Stanley’s mother, Melissa Melnick, who is also pastor at the church. “Walk with each other, pray with each other.”

Throughout the vigil, people hugged and sang songs for Stanley, whom friends described as smart and kind.

“Chris … is such an empathetic person,” said his friend, biology senior Lisa Persson.

The University of Minnesota Police Department have also assisted the search.

“There is no news right now,” Melnick said. “We don’t really know what happened. There isn’t an answer.”

Stanley is about six feet tall and was last seen wearing a blue rain jacket and plaid shirt.

Lisa Persson is a former Daily staff member.