Chittenango High School is mourning the loss of a junior who died Sunday while scuba diving in Skaneateles Lake. 16-year-old Brandon Finch tried to surface quickly, but never made it to the top. Wednesday, his classmates said goodbye through prayer and song. YNN's Candace Hopkins takes us there.
CHITTENANGO, N.Y.--It was a dreary night for a solemn goodbye.
"When I come to the end of the road, and the sun has set for me, I want no rights in gloom-filled rooms, why cry for a soul set free."
"We lost a friend but we also lost a part of our family, and I also know that he's watching down on us right now in this weather."
Dozens of classmates, friends, and family gathered at Chittenango High School Wednesday night in honor of Brandon Finch. Despite only spending one year here, his death has hit the school community hard.
"A lot of people have dealt with death in their lives, but when it's a young high school student or any student it's just that much more challenging, we just don't expect it, and it happens, and we have to deal with it any way we can", said Chittenango High School Teacher Greg Shepard.
"I'm very sad, and he'll be very missed. He's a great guy, he would make anyone laugh, he would go up to any random person in school and talk to them when they're were alone, and he'd just smile all the time", said Finch's friend Katie Rutherford.
Friends say Finch loved to serve his community. He was a dedicated junior firefighter and he encouraged others to get involved.
"He helped me decide to join the fire department, and he'd tell me all about being a junior volunteer for the Bridgeport Fire Department, and I thought it was pretty cool, he'd tell me all about it, like what he did, he'd always be there", said Rutherford.
And while his death has left a hole in this community, people have come together to mourn the unimaginable loss.
"I am so proud to be a bear right now, so proud, because there's people here who didn't know him, who weren't even from our school, who weren't even from our town or anything, and they just came, because, just because, just because they're good people", said Vigil Organizer Karlene Becker.
The school's counseling center was also open for anyone who needed their services. Meanwhile there are a lot of questions surrounding Finch's death. An official cause has not been released, but the Sheriff's Department says he was a certified diver. He was also with two adults who were also certified.