THE family of a missing firefighter say they are “utterly devastated and completely heartbroken” after a body was found on Friday.
The body of a man believed to be Anthony Knott was recovered from the River Ouse at Newhaven in East Sussex, police said.
The 33-year-old father-of-four disappeared on December 20 after going to a pub in Lewes with colleagues.
In the emotional statement the family of the Orpington father said his story had “touched the hearts of thousands of people” and thanked everyone who had helped in the search.
Large scale searches were carried out in an effort to find Mr Knott in the weeks that followed, with Sussex Police deploying boats, dogs, drones and helicopters.
However, on Friday police announced that a body believed to be Mr Knott had been recovered after a member of the public called Sussex Police.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Mr Knott’s family said: “We are utterly devastated and completely heartbroken.
“Anthony’s story has reached out and touched the hearts of thousands of people.
“We would like to thank everyone for your incredible support, shares, posters, volunteers and donations.
“The people of Lewes, we will be forever grateful for your support & understanding during our searches.
“These three weeks have been so very hard for us all.
“We now want to take some time as a family to grieve and as I am sure everyone will understand, to respect our privacy for this time.”
Police said a member of the public alerted the force today at 9.41am that a body had been found at Denton Island, in Newhaven harbour.
Detective Inspector Mark Rosser said officers believed it to be that of Mr Knott.
He thanked volunteers who turned out to help with the search.
He added: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Anthony at this difficult time.
“We would like to thank the public for their tremendous support with our investigation into the disappearance of Anthony, along with our partner agencies and volunteers who assisted with the search.”