YAKIMA, Wash. — No one can ever say that Lucian Munguia wasn’t loved. He was loved, not only by his family, but by the hundreds of strangers who came to his funeral to say goodbye and the thousands more watching from across the country.

Most funerals are attended by just close family and friends, unless the person who died was famous or in a position of power. Lucian was neither, but his story captured hearts and made people love a little boy they’d never get a chance to meet.

That’s why Yakima’s Stone Church was packed Saturday with people wanting to honor Lucian’s memory, say goodbye and express their condolences to his family.

Lucian disappeared Sept. 10 during a family outing to Sarg Hubbard Park in Yakima. Law enforcement responded with one of the largest searches for a missing child in Washington state history.

Hundreds of community members joined the search, with missing child flyers covering the Yakima Valley and posted on signposts, bulletin boards and store windows across the nation.

His family never stopped hoping, pushing and praying for answers — and never stopped searching.

But after 111 days with no sign of their little boy, Lucian’s body was found Dec. 29 in the Yakima River near Wapato. Authorities determined his cause of death was accidental drowning.

“While the outcome, the answer, isn’t exactly what his family prayed for and hoped for, there can be — and there is — peace in this moment,” Yakima Bethel Church of the Nazarene Pastor Jim Beattie said to a packed church during a Jan. 7. vigil for Lucian.

In lieu of flowers, the family is encouraging people to donate to causes they believe best honor Lucian’s memory, including:

  • Oregon Coast Aquarium (Wildlife Rehabilitation or Animal Enrichment Program)
  • Catholic Charities serving Central Washington (ABA Program).

Donations may be sent in care of Brookside Funeral Home, PO Box 1267, Moxee, WA, 98936. Memories and condolences may be shared online here.

KAPP-KVEW’s Emily Goodell has been following this case since the beginning and had permission from the family to cover Lucian’s funeral. She will have more on this story on Monday.