JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three young men have lost their lives in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Duval County this month.
One of the three, Mykhailo Myroshnychenko, was laid to rest on Monday at Arlington Park Cemetery of Jacksonville.
Myroshnychenko’s brothers and church friends were there and said their final goodbyes.
News4JAX spoke to his church’s pastor who said Myroshnychenko, known as Michael, came to America for a better life with his brothers after leaving war-torn Ukraine.
Myroshnychenko, 19, and his two brothers found Pastor Bogdan Bondarenko’s church, Living Stream, a Slavic church that supports hundreds of Ukrainian refugees.
“They don’t have much family or friends in Jacksonville,” Bondarenko said. “They don’t have parents or jobs even, they are very fresh and they are refugees.”
Myroshnychenko had two wishes when he came to the United States.
“His dream was to see the ocean and he came and his dream came true and his dream was also to find our church,” Bondarenko said.
The 19-year-old traveled to the beach many times, but on June 6 it would be his last visit after helping save a father and the man’s daughters from strong currents at Neptune Beach. The next day his body was found just miles away at Atlantic Beach.
His pastor remembers Myroshnychenko as a young man who loved God and helping others.
“Every time we lose a life it is always said but in Michael’s case the fact that he lost his life and he was trying to save others and he did save two other girls but he gave up his life, he is a hero, he’s an angel to many people.”
An angel who leaves behind two brothers, his parents and many others who admired the selfless acts of a young man who was just days away from his 20th birthday.
Myroshnychenko’s parents were not able to attend the funeral because they are stuck in Norway attempting to get to the United States to be with their children.
The church will continue to help refugees like Michael. If you would like to donate money toward the funeral cost, you can visit the family’s online fundraiser. So far, more than $30,000 have been raised.