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Hundreds remember Christian newlyweds killed in helicopter crash at memorial service

Hundreds remember Christian newlyweds killed in helicopter crash at memorial service

Late newlyweds, William Byler and his wife Bailee Ackerman Byler. | (Photo: Facebook)

An estimated 2,000 people showed up at the Belleville United Methodist Church in Texas last Friday to pay final respects to a newlywed Christian couple who died shortly after their wedding less than a week earlier.

According to ABC 13, an estimated 2,000 people filled Bellville's United Methodist Church and its overflow area, and spent some four hours remembering the late couple, William Troy Byler and his new wife, Bailee Raye Ackerman Byler, who were described as being meant for each other in separate obituaries.

"Will brought so much positivity and happiness to her life and they were inseparable. We know there are angels among us for they showed up that starry night to fly them to their eternal home. Bailee Raye will be truly missed by all who knew her. Until we meet again there will not be a moment her and Will are not in our hearts with plenty of memories to share," Bailee's obituary said.

"If you knew Will, you knew he loved with every being in his body. He never met a stranger and would do anything for anybody at the drop of a hat. He wore his heart on his sleeve. It shined through the biggest dimples you have ever seen with the sweetest smile. Will was always the life of the party and kept a smile on everyone's face. Will had so many friends that were near and dear to his heart," the late groom's obituary explained.

"When Will met Bailee he was forever changed. She was his saving grace. He knew she was his soulmate from the beginning. Bailee made his eyes brighter and his smile bigger. She was his world and he would do anything to make her happy. Will's love for the Lord showed in how he loved Bailee. They had a special kind of love. A love that was too perfect for this broken world. Now they will have a perfect marriage and spend an eternal honeymoon together with Our Savior," it added.

Bailee was the only daughter for her parents while William was his parents' only son.

A separate funeral was held for Bailee a day earlier at Turning Point Church of Vidor. Proceedings at both events were kept private.

Those who were not able to share in the funeral on Friday paid their respects in different ways in Belleville Square where flowers were placed in front of a store owned by the Byler family. White ribbons were also wrapped around brown poles to remember the couple.

"I think it symbolizes more of what we would ... want to portray rather than doing black even though it was such a tragedy. It's kind of our town's way of ... letting them know we're lifting them up. And we're lifting them up in faith. We're lifting them up in prayer because as we know, that is what is going to get them through this," Melissa Weiss, who works next to the store owned by Byler's grandmother, and where his mother also works, told ABC 13.

"It's just such a tragedy that the other family had to lose their only daughter. This family had to lose their only son," she added.

Shortly after they left their wedding reception in Texas, Steven Kennedy, justice of the peace for Uvalde County Precinct 1, told CBS News that the couple had died in the crash minutes after on Nov. 4., about 10 miles northwest of Uvalde.

Gerald Douglas Lawrence, who federal officials say was a "very experienced" pilot was also killed along with the newlywed 24-year-old college seniors.

Jacob Martinez, who filmed the couple's wedding and final moments before they would board the ill-fated helicopter, said they were in high spirits during the send-off from family and friends.

"We sent them off with something that they will remember," he told KENS 5. "It chokes me up because I saw them get in the helicopter, which seemed to be fine."


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