Man facing charges over body in backyard rescued from river

Photo courtesy Darlene Passarelli
Photo courtesy of Ray Pauley and firefighters
Photo courtesy of Ray Pauley and firefighters

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Rochester man charged in January when a body was found in his backyard was rescued Sunday morning from the Niagara River after his car went into the water off East River Road.

Firefighters say a group was drift fishing in the river when a woman discovered a man sitting in two feet of water. The woman, her boyfriend and her father called 911 to alert first responders.

Officials rigged safety ropes down a 40-foot embankment, entered the water and brought 62-year-old William Lewek into a docking area. Lewek was taken by ambulance to Erie County Medical Center to be treated for hypothermia.

William Lewek

Lewek is a psychiatrist from Rochester. In January, he was accused of hiding the body of 32-year-old Matthew Straton at his home. Straton had been the subject of a wide search in October and his body was found buried in the doctor’s backyard in January.

Lewek is currently out on bail while he faces charges of tampering with physical evidence and criminal possession of a controlled substance. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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