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Metro officer killed after attempting to rescue hiker

Reported by: Denise Rosch

Reported by: Michelle Velez
Reported by: John Treanor
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Updated: 7/23/2013 10:14 pm
MOUNT CHARLESTON (KSNV -- A Metro officer has died after trying to rescue a stranded hiker off Mount Charleston.

According to Metro, its Dispatch Center received a call at 8:54 p.m. from an individual stating he had become stranded on a rock ledge while hiking in the Mary Jane Falls area of Mount Charleston.

A Metro Search and Rescue helicopter responded to the scene, and at approximately 10:10 p.m. located the victim. Because of the dangerous terrain, it was determined the victim would be rescued by utilizing the helicopters internal rescue hoist to lower a Search and Rescue Officer down to the victim. The victim and rescuer would then be hoisted together back into the aircraft.

Officer David Vanbuskirk, 36, was lowered and attached a rescue device to the victim, and signaled for the helicopter to begin hoisting them up into the aircraft. As the pair was being hoisted into the helicopter, Vanbuskirk somehow became detached from the line, falling into the canyon below. The victim remained attached to the cable and was safely brought into the aircraft.

Additional rescue personnel and rescue aircraft immediately responded and located Vanbuskirk. The exact distance he fell is still under investigation, however the fall was nonsurvivable, and he perished on impact.

Vanbuskirk had been employed by LVMPD since October 1999 and had been assigned to the Search and Rescue Section since February 2007.

U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., served with Vanbuskirk on Metro's Search and Rescue team as a volunteer. He released this statement: "Today is a dark day for the Las Vegas search and rescue community and the Las Vegas Metro family. Anytime you lose an officer, everyone is touched by that tragedy - friends, family, fellow officers, and former officers.

"The work our law enforcement officials and search and rescue officers do around the valley to keep our communities safe is dangerous work, and this tragedy is a somber reminder that they put their lives on the line every time they are on duty.

"I remember when Dave first joined the unit – he was ambitious, motivated, professional and always smiling. While today we mourn the loss of Officer Vanbuskirk we also celebrate his 13-year career serving the residents of Clark County.

"My thoughts and sincerest condolences go out to the Vanbuskirk family, and I pray they will be strengthened by the support of friends and family during this difficult time."

Today Governor Brian Sandoval issued the following statement regarding the death of Las Vegas Police Search and Rescue Officer David Vanbuskirk.

“Kathleen and I want to extend our deepest sympathies to the friends and loved ones of Officer Vanbuskirk. His death is a tragic reminder of the dangers our first responders are exposed to on a daily basis. His service to his community, state, and country will not be forgotten.”




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