Death outside Bills stadium baffles family

Nov. 18, 2012 at 1:03 AM
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The family of a young man found dead hours after he was thrown out of Ralph Wilson Stadium during the Buffalo-Miami game say they are looking for answers.

David Gerken Jr., 26, was ejected from the stadium at half-time of the Thursday night game he attended with his younger brother Chuck and a friend, The Buffalo News reported. He had gone to the men's room and then phoned his brother minutes later to say he had been booted and didn't know why, the newspaper said.

He told his brother he would meet up with him at a bar after the game. That's the last his family heard from him. His body was found Friday in a creek at the bottom of ravine near the Bills Healthy Zone Fieldhouse, in the opposite direction of the bar.

Gerken had cheered on Miami amidst Bills fans while wearing an orange-knit Dolphins hat. While his team was losing and he may have had a couple of beers, his family says he wasn't drunk and he didn't have an aggressive personality. He also was scheduled to work at his job at a packaging company the next morning.

"He was a very easy-going guy," David Gerken Sr. of Palmyra said. "If somebody had hassled him, he might have hassled them back, but he would have done it with a smile on his face and said, 'Enjoy the game.'"

The elder Gerken, who discovered his son's body, told the News Saturday he was still "numb." A cause of death had not been reported.

"I can't blame anyone," he said. "I don't know exactly what happened. I'd like to know what happened. Why did he get ejected? What did he do wrong? I don't know. I don't know if I ever will.

"Why would he go down that way? Why would he go over the fence or around the fence? There's no reason for him to go there. I don't know why he wound up where he was found. Your guess is as good as mine."

His son, about 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, was a graduate of Palmyra-Macedon High School and had worked the last seven years at Heritage Packaging in Victor where he had been promoted to supervisor and trained new employees.

Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew D. Benz said Friday he didn't know if alcohol played a role in what happened.

A Bills spokesman said the team was cooperating with law enforcement officials in their investigation.

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