Mark Moore was remembered Thursday as a hard-working and generous young man who was excited about life as he anticipated the birth of his first child.
Dozens of people gathered on Thursday night in prayer and reflection after learning that his body was recovered in the Potomac River. Friends and family said he likely drowned there while swimming on Monday.
Loved ones gathered in a field near the corner of Johns Hopkins and Riedel Road on Thursday night, holding candles and balloons and sharing their memories of Moore. Thursday was Moore's 23rd birthday; the vigil completed with the group singing "Happy Birthday" and releasing the balloons into the air.
"I know it's a new beginning of pain, but right now I'm just happy he can be laid to rest," said Ambrea Nicklow, Moore's girlfriend, who is five months pregnant with their child.
Montgomery County and National Park Police officials announced the discovery of a body from the Potomac River Thursday afternoon. They did not immediately identify the body as Moore's, but friends and family confirmed that he apparently drowned while swimming Monday near the Potomac Gorge of Great Falls National Park. Officials said it is the fourth drowning in that area this year.
"He was swimming back up and got pretty close to the shore, but it picked up again and just pulled him under," Nicklow said.
Nicklow described Moore as giving and funny, and determined to improve his life for the good of their relationship and child. The pair met while working together at the McDonald's on Annapolis Road in Odenton.
"We just fell for each other," Nicklow said. "I loved him right away."
Rev. Derrick Young, Moore's uncle, said his nephew was known to get into trouble on occasion, but was excited about the changes in his life.
"He had just started getting his life together, working two jobs and things started clicking," Young said.
Moore was a graduate of Arundel High School and also attended Crofton Middle School. He is survived by his parents, Mark and Lynna Moore; sister Sierra and brother James; and numerous cousins, aunts and uncles. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.