By Melissa Garcia
DENVER (CBS4) – A deceased man pulled from the South Platte River in Denver Saturday has been officially identified as Adam Gilbertson, 29, who had been missing for nearly a month.
He moved to Denver roughly four months earlier for his career, family members say, and was working as a hospice nurse.
Mourners met for a candlelight vigil late Sunday afternoon at a gazebo-like structure in a brushy area near Jason Street and Custer Place, close to where a crew recovered Gilbertson’s body from the water a day earlier.
Among vigil attendees, one woman who attended a 15-month nursing school program with Gilbertson spoke with CBS4’s Melissa Garcia.
“He was very loving,” she said.
She, like many others, wanted answers as to what ended the life of a man who was loved by so many.
“It’s just so weird… I hope the autopsy shows (what happened) because it’s just really bizarre,” she said.
A flower memorial, photograph and wooden cross stood on the river’s east bank near the scene where a volunteer searcher found Gilbertson’s body.
“It was not a scene you wanted to see,” said Gabriela Reyes, one of more than 130 people who participated in the volunteer search effort.
Gilbertson’s family members flew in from his home state of Minnesota to do everything they could to locate him.
Volunteers spent hours walking through difficult terrain looking for clues that could help lead them to the man who disappeared just before 1 a.m. Dec. 15 after leaving a live music venue on Broadway Boulevard near Center Avenue.
“It’s absolutely a heartbreaking story, just for the family,” Reyes said. “That’s who you really feel for.”
Amy Linnell, Gilbertson’s sister, thanked the Denver community for helping her and her family find Gilbertson, who was the youngest of four siblings.
“That’s amazing,” Linnell said. “And we appreciate it, that everybody (was) willing to do that.”
After the discovery of their loved one’s body, family members began returning to Minnesota and were asking for privacy.
“It’s rough,” said Mark Wonder, a Denver business owner who initially organized search teams, and later, put together the vigil. “Such a giving man. A giving heart,” Wonder said, holding back tears.
Gilbertson’s childhood best friend showed up at the site of his memorial to say her final goodbyes.
Others who did not even know him showed up with flowers, candles and a wreath.
Denver police were awaiting the coroner’s cause and manner of death to determine how officers would move forward in the death investigation.