The body of a Maryland woman was found in a quarry on Monday, just days after she was swept away in a flood while trying to save a stranded driver, PEOPLE confirms — and the woman’s boyfriend says he’s the one who found her remains.
Kyle Bowman told WJZ that he first spotted 34-year-old Melissa Lehew’s body on Monday during search efforts in the James Run creekbed. Lehew’s body was recovered around 1 p.m., police said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“As soon a we were in the lake, I saw her floating maybe a hundred yards off from where I put the kayak in from,” Lehew told WJZ. “At least now we found her and we don’t have to go diving in the lake. At least we’ve recovered her.”
The discovery marked the end of a nearly three-day search, after Lehew, of Darlington, was overtaken around 6 p.m. on Friday by the fast-moving flood waters in the area of Route 136 and James Run in Churchville. That evening, Lehew and a man — identified in several reports as Bowman — came upon a driver, 67-year-old Daniel Samis, trapped in his truck, which had been nearly submerged in flood waters.
Lehew and Bowman went to the truck with a rope to help Samis, but Lehew quickly fell and was swept over a bridge, according to police.
“She just didn’t have the strength to fight the current. It pushed her under the guardrail,” Bowman told WBFF.
“I made my way over to her and pulled her head up from the water so she could breathe. She got to a telephone pole and was holding onto that. I was holding onto a bush. I was trying to pull her up and I just couldn’t. She couldn’t hold on. She just got swept away. As I was pulling myself out with the rope the car also washed over the guardrail and went into the creek too.”
Samis, of Abingdon, was found dead around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, and a search for Lehew, a mother of four, continued. Bowman along with his parents, friends and member of the church he attended, Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air, looked tirelessly for the woman.
In the wake of Monday’s discovery, Mount Zion pastor, Brian Malcolm, shared a heartfelt message on Facebook, calling Lehew by her nickname, Elizabeth.
“It is a extremely sad day. Elizabeth, our hearts break for you and your family. It was amazing to see the light in your soul from knowing Jesus. You are and will forever be a HERO,” Malcolm continued. “Kyle Bowman, you are a brave man and are absolutely the definition of what a HERO means. You were relentless and never gave up. We need more people like you in this world!!”
Friends and family have shared Facebook messages of their own on the woman’s page, remembering her as “a genuinely kind person.”
“She had the most amazing heart and wanted to help everyone she met, hoping that she could leave others better than she found them,” one person wrote in a post on Lehew’s page. “She died doing something that was who she was to the core, being a Good Samaritan trying to save a man trapped in his car in the floodwaters in Harford County on Friday. I am absolutely utterly heartbroken.”