BUFFALO, NY-- Buffalo Police located the body of missing police officer Craig Lehner after an intense, exhausting, and at times emotional five day search on the Niagara River.
Officer Lehner's body was found off Strawberry Island by a team of divers around 1 p.m. Tuesday. Lieutenant Jeff Rinaldo told reporters that it was in an area where specialized sonar on search boats showed an image late Monday. That designated area was searched again Tuesday and Officer Lehner's body was spotted and recovered by the commander of the polive dive team. It was then transported by a BPD boat to the foot of Porter Avenue and taken to ECMC escorted by numerous police and other agencies in a procession of vehicles. Buffalo firefighters and municipal employees also turned out for a formal salute to Lehner and to help direct traffic to make way for the procession.
Officer Craig Lehner, a member of Buffalo's K-9 unit and Underwater Recovery Team, went missing Friday afternoon during a training exercise on the Niagara River.
Numerous agencies from throughout Western New York, New York state, and Canada assisted Buffalo Police and Fire in the search for Officer Lehner which stretched into five days.
The police department had vowed to keep looking until they found him.
As Lt. Jeff Rinaldo put it, "I don't think anybody expected this to last as long as it did. But at the end of the day we did what we said we were gonna do...we were gonna bring our brother home and we accomplished that task."
Rinaldo says the Lehner family was obviously saddened with the loss of their loved one, but with the recovery there was closure for them and the officers and staff of the Buffalo Police Department.
There will be consultations with the Lehner family and funeral arrangements may be announced in the next day or so.
There will also be a debriefing and review session with members of the Buffalo Underwater Recovery Team and other divers who took part in the search. But Lt. Rinaldo says it is too early to know exactly what caused the tragic death of the officer in this training exercise.
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