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Chautauqua law enforcement community in shock after tragic boating death of sheriff’s captain

MAYVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – A long-time, well-known member of Chautauqua County’s law enforcement community died after a boating incident in Chautauqua Lake on Saturday afternoon.

Captain David Bentley served the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office for 37 years. Before joining the Sheriff’s Office, he worked for Ellicott and Fredonia Police.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, children, siblings and entire family and his many friends,” the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office wrote on its Facebook page.

Flags at government office buildings in Mayville are at half-staff in honor of Captain Bentley.

He was prepping to go out boating with his wife on Chautauqua Lake, when somehow he fell into the water and was unable to make it out. Sheriff Jim Quattrone says Bentley was in a canoe, heading out to a motor boat when he fell in.

The incident happened in the area of Martha’s Vineyard in the Town of Ellery.

Investigators said a neighbor and two people who just happened to be in the area brought Bentley ashore and performed CPR, but they were unable to revive him.

Multiple units responded including Fluvanna Fire Department, the County Dive Team, Chautauqua County EMS and Sheriffs deputies.

Bentley was then taken to UPMC Chautauqua where he was pronounced dead.

Bentley oversaw patrol and special teams divisions of the Sheriff’s Office. He investigated DWI cases and drug cases as part of the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force. He also led the Sheriff’s SWAT team and was a firearms instructor.

“He likely had a part in training every law enforcement officer in Chautauqua County,” Quattrone said. “He had a huge impact, the legacy that he’s leaving in law enforcement not only in Chautauqua County but across the state and across state lines.”

Captain Bentley was a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is survived by his wife Kim, children Erik and Kaitlyn, and his grandson Sawyer.

On Monday, Kim and Erik told News 4 by phone that Captain Bentley was a loving family man who enjoyed riding and showing Percheron horses.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, visitation will be held at Lind Funeral Home on W. 3rd Street in Jamestown form 2 to 8 p.m. on Thursday. The funeral service will be held at 1st Lutheran Church on Chandler Street in Jamestown on Friday and a ceremony will take place at his grave immediately following the funeral at Fluvanna Cemetery. A reception will follow at the Fluvanna Fire Department.

Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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