SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Close to two months after his body was found floating in the Connecticut River, friends, family, and even people who didn't know him, gathered to celebrate the life of Achim Bailey.
It has been through Western Mass News' exclusive reporting on Achim's disappearance that the community has rallied behind his family as they searched for answers as to what happened to him the night of January 13th.
For the first time, many of them were able to come together to honor a man, who many, didn't even know.
Hundreds of people packed the St. John's Congregational Church Friday night to honor the man several people knew, but many others got to know following his disappearance.
They included Damaris Torres, who says she followed his story since the beginning.
"It didn't end the way everybody had hoped," Torres tells us. "We were all hoping he would be found safe and alive, and, unfortunately, that wasn't the case."
Even though she didn't know his family, Damaris tells Western Mass News that it was important for her to attend the service to show her support.
Those who did know Achim say they still can't believe he's gone.
"I was hoping everything was a lie," stated Achim's friend Juquan Hicks. "I'm not even going to lie to you, I was hoping I could see him again."
HCC President Christine Royal also didn't know Achim.
She tells Western Mass News that the turn out for the service says it all about the kind of person Achim was.
"A lot of people know Achim, and," said Royal. "He's touched a lot of lives and, by extension, many other lives, and I think this ceremony today, both a celebration of life, is a tribute of that."
"We didn't deserve him," continued Hicks. "We didn't. We took him for granted. His life, him being here, we all took it for granted. He was there for everybody, but nobody was there for him, including myself."
Other friends, such as Tom Lin, too distraught at times to even speak.
"I love you man," says Lin. "I'm sorry."
Friend, or even complete stranger, Achim's death had an impact on many.
"Growing up in Springfield," stated Torres. "A lot of people say it's not the greatest place to live, but it really is, especially when you have communities like this come together. I want to be able to show my love and support for this family."
Achim's life-long dentist, Dr. Rob Matthews, who donated thousands of dollars towards the reward hoping for Achim's safe return, says he hopes a tragedy like this doesn't happen to another family.
"We count our blessings, and," said Dr. Matthews. "Thank God for what we do have and every time one of our children comes home safe. It's something that we never take for granted."
The circumstances into how Achim ended up in the Connecticut River are still under investigation by Springfield Police detective John Lopez.
If you have any information about what may have happened to him the night of January 13th, you're asked to contact Springfield Police.
Be sure to stay with western mass news for any new developments on this case.