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Hero Down: Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Capt. David Bentley Dies While Boating

Jamestown, NY – Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Captain David Bentley died on July 9 after he fell into Chautauqua Lake while trying to board a boat.

The incident occurred near Martha’s Vineyard as the 62-year-old captain was trying to get onto a boat at approximately 1 p.m., WGRZ reported.

“For an unknown reason, Captain Bentley fell into the lake and was not able to get onto the boat or to shore,” the CCSO said in a press release the following evening.

Capt. Bentley’s neighbors and family members located him in the water and began lifesaving efforts prior to the arrival of emergency medical personnel, WGRZ reported.

The unresponsive police captain was rushed to UPMC Chautauqua, where he was pronounced dead.

The CCSO confirmed Capt. Bentley’s death in a press release on July 10.

“Captain Bentley was well known not only in the Law Enforcement community but throughout the entire community,” the sheriff’s office said. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, children, siblings and entire family and his many friends.”

Capt. Bentley served the CCSO for 37 years after previously working at the Fredonia Police Department and the Ellicott Police Department.

He performed a multitude of duties during his nearly four decades with the sheriff’s office, to include working as a patrol deputy, a DWI enforcement detail deputy, and as a Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force Investigator.

He oversaw the drug task force for many years, and was also a firearms instructor, SWAT team commander, and instructed new recruits at the law enforcement academy.

Capt. Bentley was serving as commander of the CCSO’s special teams and patrol units at the time of his death.

“Captain Bentley was involved in training most of the active law enforcement in Chautauqua County as a range instructor and Field Training Officer,” the CCSO said. “While he enjoyed the formal instruction, he was also a mentor to countless officers from many agencies throughout his career.”

“Captain Bentley will be greatly missed but his memory and legacy will go on,” the department said.

Capt. Bentley leaves behind his wife, Kim, as well as his children, Kaitlyn and Erik, and his grandson, Sawyer.

He is also survived by his siblings, aunt, in-laws, and many friends, according to his obituary.

Capt. Bentley will be laid to rest on July 15.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office Captain David Bentley, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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