A Buffalo winter has taken its toll on the memorial that marks the place Lt. Craig Lehner was last seen alive. Six months ago the swift waters of the Niagara River forced him under, the body of the Buffalo Police officer wasn’t seen until days later.
“It definitely seems like a lot of time passed between when it happened and now, but at the same time, it's kind of been like a blur,” said Detective Tommy Champion, Lehner’s former partner.
Now, his friends and family are keeping the legacy of Craig Lehner alive.
“It's the continuing to carry on his name for years to come,” said A.J. Verel the president of the Judges and Police Executives Conference of Erie County.
The group established a scholarship in Lehner's name. It's designed to help a student looking to enter the criminal justice field. So far, more than 75 students have applied for the 500 dollar scholarship. The organization is looking for more applicants as well as more donors.
“Being immortalized based on his actions and how well he was as a person, just ecstatic. Great to see something happening for him,” said Andre Samoel, Lehner’s friend.
The scholarship will be awarded to the person who most embodies the values of Officer Lehner. That includes education, athletics, and community service.
Students can apply to Judges and Police Executives Conference until May 11th.
“He's always going to be our brother so we're going to represent him until the day we expire,” said Champion.