Tonawanda News — State officials confirmed Thursday the body of a man found dead in the Genesee River Gorge at Letchworth State Park was a North Tonawanda resident.
Officials believe Stephen Bzibziak, 21, was hiking on a trail when he fell and injured himself in the gorge, though he managed to place a 911 call for help from his cellphone before inclement weather turned back a multi-agency search party.
“At 1:30 p.m. Wednesday he called to say he had fallen,” said Chrisanne Conley, a dispatcher with the New York state Park Police. “Because of the winter conditions we weren’t able to recover him until the morning. When our guys were finally able to get down to him he was deceased.”
Conley said she could not confirm whether Bzibziak had died from exposure, stating that as part of an investigation an autopsy will likely be conducted in the coming days.
The search was led by the state Park Police Rope Rescue Team, and assisted by a volley of state authorities and local outfits in Wyoming County. An employee of Adventure Call Outfitters also confirmed on Thursday evening that members of the rafting company took part in the recovery.
The rescue effort was turned back on Wednesday night due to heavy snows and wind.