PIERRE, S.D. — Hundreds of law enforcement officers, military service and civilian community members congregated alongside the Missouri River at Steamboat Park in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, July 16, to honor the memory of Hughes County Chief Deputy Lee Weber.
Weber drowned in the Missouri River after jumping into the strong current July 3 to save his 8-year-old son who had fallen from the boat.
Weber, 37, is survived by his wife, Wendy, and their six children.
“After making contact with his son, Lee struggled to overcome the current and was pulled under water. His son was rescued by a neighboring boat thanks to Lee's efforts,” according to Jon Brill, organizer of a GoFundMe page for Weber's family.
Weber’s body was found July 10, almost a week after he went missing after extensive search efforts near a railroad bridge.
Missouri Avenue in Pierre was closed for law enforcement vehicle parking for sheriff’s office personnel from counties across the state.
Weber also was a member of the National Guard, and was deployed to Iraq in 2004-05 and then Afghanistan in 2009-10.
The Rev. Craig Wexler, a chaplain for the Pierre Police Department, said that he’s read Psalm 23 for more than 260 funerals, but said he’s “never connected the dots with Psalm 23 as I did over the last couple of days.”
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
Wexler described Weber's joyful character and how much joy being a father brought him as Wexler and Weber had children in the same classroom where the two got to know each other when joining their children for school lunches.
“He was a man that always, and I mean always, had a smile on his face,” Wexler said of Weber, who he’d pass often while walking through the sheriff’s office building.
Wexler said he doesn’t understand God’s timing and wouldn't pretend to, but knows that God is walking in the valley of the shadow of death, and is with us and Weber every step of the way.