For nearly a week after he was reported missing, friends, family members and others who knew 33-year-old Eric Langlois only by reputation had been coming to search for him in New Milford.

On Tuesday, authorities said a body retrieved from Lake Lillinonah was a white male, but could not confirm whether it was that of the missing photographer.

However, Raul Camejo of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said Tuesday the body was badly decomposed after about a week in the water and the Office of the State Medical Examiner would have to make the final identification, which could take 24 to 48 hours.

"It's a family situation and they are heartbroken," Camejo said Tuesday at a news conference near the spot where the body had been removed from the lake. "They were hoping we would find him on the shoreline somewhere waiting."

Family and friends asked for privacy after the body had been recovered.

A woman on a dock on Lake Lillinonah Road North spotted the body Tuesday at 11:40 a.m. and called state authorities.

The road is across the lake from the gorge at Lover's Leap State Park, where Langlois had last been seen.

On Monday evening, with the last hopes for his survival long since extinguished, friends came to remember him.

More than 250 people lined the scenic steel Lover's Leap Bridge bridge over the gorge where the Housatonic River empties into Lake Lillinonah.

They paid tribute to the man whose love for his wife and family, for taking pictures, and for inappropriate jokes, had left an indelible impression on all of them.

"He's here. I know he sees us," fellow photographer Anthony DeCarlo said. "He's making fun of someone, I know it."

A week has passed since Langlois disappeared, apparently while trying to retrieve his missing bicycle from the rushing waters of the river, where he had fallen in while riding through the park the day before.

By Monday, what had been an intensive search of the lake by EnCon Police from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and dive teams and boats from area police and fire departments had been reduced to sweeps of the shore by family members and friends.

Yet the presence of so many friends and colleagues Monday evening brought some comfort to those who best knew Langlois, the father of two young children.

So many people came that many of the later arrivals were forced to park along Grove Street, outside the park, creating what organizers feared would be an unsafe situation for those who would have to walk back to their vehicles after darkness fell.

The start of the vigil was delayed to allow them to find a safer place to park.

"It's very nice to see such support," said Bob and Deb Lemke, aunt and uncle of Langlois' wife, Amber, who is three months pregnant with the couple's third child.

"We're hanging in there the best we can," said Ruth Lemke, Amber's grandmother, who has been staying with her and their daughter, Avery, 9, and son Ryder, 7, since Langlois was reported missing.

"We just want him back," she said. "There is no closure if we don't."

The gathering, according to organizers Carla Ten Eyck, who manages the Langlois' thriving wedding photography business, and Eileen Straiton, was intended to show support to the family and demonstrate to Langlois' children the respect and affection others had for their father.

"It would be nice for Avery and Ryder to see the support," Straiton said.

Many of those who spoke brought laughter from the crowd as they recounted some of their favorite stories about Langlois.

"I can't talk about him without laughing," one friend said. "Everybody here has some ridiculous story about him."

But they also valued his opinions and, as Ronnie Mazal, a wedding DJ who got many of his jobs because Langlois had recommended him to his clients, said, "He didn't recommend people lightly. If he recommended you, feel the moment and enjoy it."

Ten Eyck recalled how when Langlois' mother was dying, other photographers who knew him stepped up and edited the photos for nearly 30 weddings he had shot so they could be delivered to clients on time.

In one of their last texts, she said, Langlois quoted several favorable reviews of his work and told her, "This is our year."

Most of all, friends such as Mike Garbowski remembered Langlois' love for his wife and family.

"A husband and a father," Garbowski said. "I think that was the job he was best at."

jpirro@newstimes.com; 203-731-3342

Authorities said that the body retrieved in Lake Lillinonah on Tuesday was a white male but could not confirm whether it was that of a missing 33-year-old photographer.

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection EnCon Police Capt. Raul Camejo said Tuesday afternoon that the body was badly decomposed after about a week in the water and the Office of the State Medical Examiner would have to make the final identification, which could take 24 to 48 hours.

State and local authorities and scores of friends have been searching the lake and shore for Eric Langlois, a New Milford man who has been missing since June 11 when he went to the lake to retrieve his mountain bike that he lost the day before.

The bike has not been found.

"It's a family situation and they are heartbroken," Camejo said Tuesday at a news conference near the spot where the body was removed from the man-made lake. "They were hoping we would find him on the shoreline somewhere waiting."

Family and friends asked for privacy after the body was recovered.

A woman on a dock on Lake Lillinonah Road North spotted the body at 11:40 a.m. and called state authorities.

The road is across the lake from the gorge at Lovers Leap State Park, where Langlois was last seen.

An eyewitness told New Milford Police on the afternoon of June 11 that she heard someone in the water crying for help.

Search teams last week were hampered by dangerous currents and flood conditions. The search was called off Thursday and resumed the next day.

Earlier in the week, volunteers from as far as New Jersey and Massachusetts were searching for him in private boats, kayaks and chartered planes.

On Monday, with the last hopes for his survival long since extinguished, friends, extended family members and colleagues gathered to remember Langlois.

More than 250 people lined the scenic steel bridge over the Housatonic River gorge where it empties into Lake Lillinonah at Lovers Leap State Park and paid tribute to the man whose love for his wife and family, for taking photographs and for making inappropriate jokes had left an indelible impression on all of them.

"It's very nice to see such support," said Bob and Deb Lemke, aunt and uncle of Langlois' wife, Amber, who is three months pregnant with the couple's third child.