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Published: August 20, 2009 07:41 pm     

STATE POLICE: Body pulled from river identified

Staff Reports
Niagara Gazette

State police say the body of a man pulled from the Niagara River last week is the same a passing motorist reported seeing plummet from the south Grand Island Bridge Aug. 10.

“The subject has been located and identified,” State Police Investigator Thomas Gibbons said, adding the case now deemed a suicide has since been closed.

The man, whose identity is not being released, was in his 40s and was a resident of Erie County, he said.

The man was discovered wearing red shorts and with long dark hair at around 1 p.m. Aug. 13 after more than three days in the water.

Niagara Falls police responded to the call, removing the body from the river near a section of the 5300 block of Buffalo Avenue known as the “Hooker docks.” Gibbons described the location as being near the power authority’s intakes on the section of the water adjacent to the Robert Moses Expressway.

A motorist Aug. 10 reported seeing the man standing at the height of bridge’s southbound span around 6:50 a.m., on the footpath, “looking out over the water” before glancing back again to see the body descend.

“The clothing description and the physical description given by the witness was accurate going by what the body was discovered wearing,” Gibbons said.

The remains have since been sent to Erie County Medical Center to undergo an autopsy. No results of the autopsy have been released.

An initial search based on the motorist’s account involved the U.S. Coast Guard, Border Patrol and local agencies on the water and in two separate aircraft. At the time it turned up no results.

The caller told police he witnessed the man in mid-flight and later one other motorist came forward to say they remembered seeing the man.

“At least there’s closure for the family,” Gibbons said.