New York State Park police confirmed late Friday afternoon that a body, recovered on Thursday from the Lower Niagara River near Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., has been positively identified as Kameron D. Stenzel of Sanborn.
Stenzel, 15, had been the subject of an intensive search operation after he had slipped into the lower river gorge on Monday while fishing with his father.
Word of the identification of the teenager’s body came at the same time that family and friends had gathered for a candlelight vigil at Lewiston Landing.
His mother, Colleen Carey, thanked the gathering, telling those in attendance that she appreciated the support of the community in the days since Kameron disappeared into the fast-moving waters of the river.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake Fire Department reported the discovery at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The department said emergency services responded to the Navy Hall area on Ricardo Street at the water’s edge for reports of a body in the water.
A short time later, the department said a sailboat had pulled up to the body to stand-by until a police rescue boat arrived.
Park police said later that their investigators were “sharing information with the Ontario Forensic Pathology Center who is leading the investigation.”
The area where the body was recovered coincided with where U.S. authorities had been concentrating their search for the Stenzel. On Wednesday, helicopters from the New York State Police and U.S. Coast Guard, a dive team from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit and State Park Police officers walking the gorge trails, had found no sign of the missing teen.
The dive team had been searching in the lower river just south of the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Youngstown, while Park police and the choppers had focused on the shoreline between Lewiston and Old Fort Niagara.
Stenzel and his dad, Scott Stenzel, had been fishing in the lower Niagara River, just off the Lower Gorge Trail in Whirlpool State Park on Monday morning. Witnesses and hikers in the area said the father and son were in an area of the lower gorge know as “the flats”, when Kameron slipped on the rocks jutting into the Niagara River and slid into the water.
The teen reportedly went under the fast moving water and did not resurface.
Park police said they initially centered their search efforts on the Lower Gorge Trail, in the area of the cable car.
Carey said she, along with family members and friends had been frantically searching the shoreline since the accident.
“He was my gentle giant,” she said on Wednesday of the sophomore member of Niagara Wheatfield’s Junior Varsity Football team. “He was bigger than me, built like a football player. He did not deserve this.”
Carey said Kameron’s dad has struggled to cope with what happened.
“I am being strong for me and him,” she said earlier this week.