Many Western New Yorkers are remembering Buffalo Police Lieutenant Craig Lehner Saturday. It marks one year since he went missing in the Niagara River during a training exercise.
“He’s not somebody I knew, but just being an officer and somebody that served the country, and just seemed like such a good person,” said Kelly Benedict, who lives in Buffalo.
Kelly Benedict walks around Broderick Park all the time. She says she was there a year ago when Buffalo Police Officer Craig Lehner went missing during a dive team exercise in the Niagara River.
“I was coming here to walk that day and they wouldn’t let anyone come down because the ambulance and fire trucks were just coming,” said Benedict.
That sparked a frantic 5 day search for Lehner, who’s body was found near Strawberry Island. His tether got caught on an underwater boulder and according to a recent state report, Lehner tried to cut himself free.
Buffalo Police say the dive team hasn’t trained in the Niagara River since Lehner’s death. The state found violations in its investigation that BPD has either already corrected or will correct.
“As the one year anniversary of Craig’s passing approaches, we ask the public to please keep his family, his friends and his coworkers in their thoughts and prayers,” said Captain Jeff Rinaldo of the Buffalo Police Department.
A memorial still stands at the spot where Lehner and other divers entered the water that day and on the anniversary of his disappearance many people added flags and other tokens.
Lehner has even posthumously awarded Lieutenant with BPD and a newer K-9 officer has been named after him, as Lehner.
Just one way many people say his legacy will live on.
“I still come down here often and I always think of him, think of his mother, his family you know send love and prayers to them. Hope that they’re healing,” said Benedict.
There will be a candlelight vigil at Broderick Park in honor of Lieutenant Lehner Wednesday night. It’ll mark a year since his body was found.
It’s open to the public and it starts at 6 o’clock.