SILVER CREEK - Former Silver Creek resident and Air National Guardsman William "Bill" Sager Jr. has died as a result of head injuries he suffered during an assault at a Buffalo bar in May.
Buffalo media outlets broke the news around 5 p.m. on Thursday, adding family members would circulate an official statement Friday morning regarding their loss.
Tech. Sgt. Sager, 28, remained in a coma at the Erie County Medical Center until his death after reportedly being pushed down a flight of stairs at Molly's Pub in Buffalo's University District on May 11, striking his head and suffering a traumatic brain injury.
Silver Creek Mayor Nick Piccolo gave a statement to The Post-Journal on behalf of the village, calling Sager's passing a "terrible tragedy."
"This happened to a young man who was well-liked and had a great future in front of him, and he'll be dearly missed by his friends and family and loved ones especially," Piccolo said. "It's just a shame that things like this occur in our society today."
Those in the local area that were closest to "Billy" knew him as a talented athlete and a fun-loving guy. He played football and baseball at Silver Creek Central School, graduating in 2003.
"My brother was always there for family and friends. Growing up, we played street hockey and stickball. He (was) a very smart and caring person," Sager's brother, David, of Brant, previously said.
Sager lived in Silver Creek for much of his life, residing on Lincoln Avenue next to his childhood friend, Brandyn Griewisch, who is now the second assistant chief of the Silver Creek Fire Department.
"We played street hockey and baseball and football together," Griewisch previously said. "He was the type of guy who'd do anything for you. You don't realize how good of friends you are until something like this happens."
Griewisch's mother, Colleen, echoed what her son said.
"Billy was just an all-around awesome kid who didn't deserve this one bit," she said prior to Thursday's news. "And I just hope we, as a community, all pull together (for him) ..."
Sager moved to the town of Newfane after his family's house was damaged during the severe 2009 flood. He worked at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, serving overseas in Afghanistan for three months, and even volunteered to assist in relief efforts following natural disasters, such as an earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Sandy.
Before the assault, Sager was in the midst of completing his interview and investigation process to become a New York state trooper.
Last year, he popped the question to Erika Webster; the two were planning on getting married around this time.
"(He was) definitely just a lot of fun to be around and a great guy," Silver Creek School Athletic Director Sean Helmer previously stated. "Kids would gravitate toward him. He had a passion for sports, and even did a bit of coaching for us."
Silver Creek government teacher Thomas Buczkowski taught Sager in his senior government and economics class. He said Sager was "always laughing and smiling, working hard and dedicated."
"He's been out (of the school) for about 11 years, and people still remember him as a good kid, and I think that's significant," Buczkowski said prior to Thursday.
A benefit this Sunday for Sager is expected to go on as planned at the Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post #9249 at 2121 Grand Island Blvd. in Grand Island. Money raised will go to Sager's family to help pay for medical expenses.
The manager of the now-closed Molly's Pub, Jeffrey Basil, 36, was arrested in connection to the May assault. Basil was previously convicted of drug and drunk driving allegations and has been indicted on charges of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault and tampering with evidence. He recently pleaded not guilty.
Basil likely faces a murder charge now, possibly leading to life in prison.
In addition, two Buffalo Police officers, Robert Eloff and Adam O'Shei, remain on unpaid leave after allegedly working security while off-duty at the pub that night.