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Family identifies man found dead after Bills game

Posted at: 11/16/2012 8:44 AM
Updated at: 11/16/2012 6:30 PM
By: Lynette Adams and Berkeley Brean

Police say a Palmyra man who was attending the Bills game Thursday night fell to his death in a creek near the stadium.

Investigators say 26-year-old David Gerken Jr. attended the game with his younger brother, but was ejected from the stadium during half time. Police say he was found face down in Smoke's Creek Friday morning.

Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew Benz is calling David Gerken Jr.'s death an accidental drowning. He say Gerken's body was discovered Friday morning after an extensive search that included two fire departments and a helicopter search by the Erie County Sheriff's Office.

Gerker was at the Buffalo Bills game Thursday night with his brother and a friend. Around halftime, he was thrown out of the stadium. Chief Benz says he doesn't know why.

Gerken made arrangements to meet his party at a bar after the game ended but he never made it. His brother tried to reach him on his cell phone. Around 12:30am, Chief Benz says his office received a call for help. Gerken's body was found face down in a stream in an area used as a short cut to the stadium. It's located right behind these apartments.

The sheriff says there are no signs of trauma on Gerken's body, he also says there is no evidence alcohol is involved and he says he has ruled out foul play.

Family reacts

This was a game he and his brother went to every year.  David was a Miami Dolphins fan. Sitting at his family's kitchen table, News10NBC asked his mom and dad what they think happened to David.

His dad said that at half time, David left his seat to go to the bathroom.     Sometime later he called his brother saying he had to leave the stadium and that they would meet them at the bar after the game. That's the last time his brother heard from him. Gerken's body was found in Smoke's Creek.

The creek runs along the east side of the stadium just off the property. The creek winds in a wooded area.

His dad said he thinks his son either tried to use a short cut to the bar or just got lost. But after he climbed over a fence, he fell down a steep decline what the chief described as a cliff landed on a rock and then into the creek.
     
David worked at Heritage Packaging in Victor. He was awarded Employee of the Month in August. The president and CEO released a statement.

“Dave was a talented young man who was well liked by all of his co-workers and a valued staff member here at work. He was just recently promoted to a production foreman position and he also earned our Employee of the Month award in August. His positive attitude and friendly nature will be greatly missed by us all.”