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Western NY

Body found behind stadium identified as Palmyra man

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Rochester: Body found behind stadium identified as Palmyra man
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Police in Orchard Park are trying to piece together what happened after a man's body was found early Friday morning near Ralph Wilson Stadium. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti has more on the investigation.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — He was among thousands of fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the Bills-Dolphins game Thursday night, but 26-year-old David Gerken of Palmyra never made it home.

Police say his body was found just before 7 a.m. Friday in a creek at the bottom of a ravine behind the stadium. They say he was ejected from the game around halftime, and then made plans by phone with his brother and a friend to meet up at Tailgaters.

"They asked him if he wanted them to meet him then, he said no, I'll see you at the end of the game," said Chief Andrew Benz of the Orchard Park Police Department.

But when the game was over, they couldn't find Gerken, so they contacted police around 12:30 a.m. Friday.

"We had cars dispatched to look for him, and advised the neighboring communities as well that he was reported lost or separated from his party."

Chief Benz says Air One was called in to help, as well as two local fire companies to set up a search and rescue operation.

He says Gerken was dead when responders found him. Based on preliminary autopsy results, police say he died from an accidental drowning, and hypothermia might have also played a role.

"My understanding is there were no signs of any significant trauma."

Police say they don't know why Gerken was ejected from the game, but they're working with the Bills on their investigation.

And Benz says they're trying to figure out why Gerken ended up where he did.

"We're certainly looking if anybody saw anything last night sometime between halftime and the end of the game, we'd certainly like to hear about that."

At this point, police believe it was a tragic accident.

Statement from the Buffalo Bills

"We are deeply saddened to hear of this news this morning. While the loss of life is always tragic, the loss of a young life is even more so. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family.

We are currently cooperating with law enforcement officials to find out the details of this unfortunate incident." ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP