Hughes County Chief Deputy Lee Weber, who did tours of duty with the South Dakota Army National Guard in Iraq and Afghanistan, remains missing after diving into the Missouri River Friday, July 3, to try to rescue his eight-year-old son.

Weber is presumed dead after extensive searches of the river about two miles northwest of Fort Pierre, according to a news release Sunday from the Stanley County Sheriff’s Office in Fort Pierre.

About 2:51 p.m., Friday, July 3, Weber jumped in after his son had fallen from a moving boat about 2 miles northwest of Fort Pierre, downstream from Oahe Dam, according to the news release.

“The child was saved by a nearby boat. Mr. Weber, who was not wearing a life jacket, was swept away by the river’s current,” according to the Sunday news release.

“An estimated 18 local, state and federal agencies have been involved in the search for Mr. Weber since Friday afternoon. That includes rescue boats, divers, drones, cadaver dogs and the South Dakota Highway Patrol airplane.”

The search will be scaled back but will continue, the sheriff’s office said.

“This is a sad moment for his family and all of us who knew Lee,” said Hughes County Sheriff Darin Johnson in the news release. “But we are not surprised that he would risk his life to help someone else, especially a family member. Lee protected others while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and he did here as well. We will remember him for his unselfishness and bravery.”

Weber, who was 37, went to Riggs High School in Pierre and was sworn in as a deputy in Hughes County in 2015.

He served tours of duty in the war on terror in Iraq in 2004-2005 and in Afghanistan 2009-2010 with the Army National Guard’s 153rd Engineer Battalion, finding and blowing up roadside explosives to protect allied troops, he told the Capital Journal in 2015.

Weber also served as deputy emergency manager for Hughes and Stanley counties in 2019.

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