Matthew Kraft intended to give the bottle of Booker’s Bourbon to his friend, teacher, mentor and business partner as a Christmas gift.
Monday, a day after authorities found the body of Christopher Tully in the SchuylkillRiver near the Falls Bridge, Kraft opened the bottle himself and toasted his friend.
“I am so sorry for what has happened,” he said. “I’m sorry for not making more time.”
Tully, 40, a father of three, taught at Middle Bucks Institute of Technology for 12 years. He was last seen Jan. 8 jumping out of his parent’s car along the City Avenue bridge near Ridge Avenue and Lincoln Drive near East Falls. Tully’s parents were taking him to get help for depression when he jumped. Police said Tully suffered from bipolar disorder and was off his medication.
Kraft, 28, created a website shortly after Tully went missing in the hope of helping to find his mentor. While the website generated considerable interest and attention, as no sign of Tully emerged, the site evolved into an online memorial to an influential teacher.
Last year, Tully was named an outstanding technical education teacher by the Pennsylvania Association for Career and Technical Education.
Kraft said Tully changed his life and countless others.
He said Tully instilled a strong work ethic and a sense of responsibility in all his students.
All of Tully’s students, Kraft said, wanted to make their teacher proud.
“The world needed a Christopher Tully,” Kraft said, “if only for a little while.