The new pin oak tree near the short bridge at Grand Park at The Market Common might look like all the rest along the sidewalk. But to the Drexel family, the leaves and branches mean something more.
"It symbolizes hope," Dawn Drexel said.
The family planted a tree to commemorate the tragic anniversary that three years ago this week their daughter, spring breaker Brittanee Drexel, disappeared after leaving a hotel on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach.
Family members have been looking for her ever since and refuse to give up.
"You got to keep it in their face, people need to be aware that this happens everyday," Dawn said. "They need to be aware and we have to keep her face out there."
Dawn and Brittannee's younger brother scooped the first mound of dirt over the tree, donated by Ken Cox. Then her grandparents and sister scooped dirt with their hands and a shovel.
Family members, police, and search crews have been looking for her ever since, but Myrtle Beach police say there are no recent developments in the Drexel case. Then 17-year-old Drexel was last seen leaving the Blue Water Resort on Ocean Boulevard. The last place Brittanee's cell phone gave off a signal was on the Charleston/Georgetown County line the night she disappeared.
She would be 20 now. Here is a link to an age progression released from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.