MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - The family of the man who drowned in the Ocmulgee River last week says now that he's been found, they finally have closure.
"I thought when we found his body it was going to be easier but really it was harder. It made it more real," Tessa Townsend, Aaron Cross' step-mother, said.
A reality that came after searchers spent nine days combing the Ocmulgee River looking for the body of 24-year-old Aaron Cross.
"Without him being there, he wasn't actually gone, but yesterday he was actually gone," Jarratt Cross, his father, said.
Now that he has been found, Aaron's father and step-mother say the family has closure. As they looked at pictures of him with his friends, they remembered the man Aaron was.
"He's a good kid. He never met a stranger. Everybody that knew him liked him," Cross said. "He will be missed by many other than his family. He was an amazing soul."
His father says Aaron was an incredible singer. It was a talent he discovered only six months ago.
"He was singing one day [and] I thought it was a record in the room and it was him. He's really good," Cross said.
Aaron wasn't the best of students, but his father says he was a hard worker. He tells 41NBC Aaron earned his GED when he was 16 and was working two jobs. He recently started fighting in backyard wrestling tournaments. It was a passion that came with some cuts and bruises.
"I was like, 'You're not getting paid for this?' He's like, 'Dad, it's my anger management,'" Cross said. "And he loved it. That's been his life since it started," Townsend said.
Aaron also loved the Ocmulgee River and he couldn't wait to get back in the water.
"Christmas Eve he was talking about going to the river. [He said] 'I'm ready to go swimming.' He loved to go down there," Cross said.
His family takes that small comfort of knowing Aaron spent his last moments in the place he loved.
There will a memorial service for friends and family on Friday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Crest Lawn Funeral Home in Macon. The family is holding a private funeral service this weekend.
There will be a car wash fundraiser to help with funeral costs all day tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 3810 Vineville Avenue in Macon.