BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) – Police divers are back in the Niagara River to search for the body of an officer who went missing during a training dive.
Law enforcement agencies from across the state and over the border have been pouring into Buffalo to help in the search.
Buffalo police posting a heartfelt message to their Facebook page Sunday night thanking everyone for their support during this tough time. The department is also asking for prayers for the family of Officer Craig Lehner
For the first time, Lt. Jeff Rinaldo called the search a recovery and not a rescue.
“Unfortunately the chances of somebody surviving these conditions is all but nonexistent at this point. So our mission focus now is to bring our brother home,” said Lt. Jeff Rinaldo.
Dive teams and boats started out on the Niagara River early Sunday morning, even expanding their search to the International Rail Bridge.
Helicopters hovered above the Niagara River to search the shore banks.
“We did have a very productive day we were able to search a lot of areas, a greater span with a lot more use of the technology and divers,” said Rinaldo.
But because of dangerous high winds, BPD was forced to call the search off early Sunday.
“The wind is too great to put a diver on a boat and the wind is too great to allow the boats the accuracy they need to stay in the grid patterns and conduct sonar research,” said Rinaldo.
Rinaldo says the outpouring of support from agencies all over the state and country has been incredible.
From the Rochester dive team, New York Police Department and even master divers all of the way from the Gulf of Mexico – all working together to bring their fellow brother home.
“Bring that closure first and foremost to his family and secondly to the men and women of the buffalo police department.”
Rinaldo says the strength of Officer Lehner’s family has been amazing and that’s what has been driving police right now through this difficult time.
Authorities say Lehner was participating in a training exercise on the river at Buffalo when he went missing. Police, emergency crews and the U.S. Coast Guard participated in the search, which resumed Monday morning after being suspended Sunday because of rough conditions.
Police dive teams from Rochester and other jurisdictions are helping with the search.